Even though some might think that the golden age of blockchain projects is already over and if the same token sales were happening today there would be no SONM, ToTheMoon or HOQU, I would say that there are still funds to raise and numerous ventures to embark on, but the rules of the game are getting clearer and more civilized, bringing blockchain entrepreneurs closer to reality, making their network abilities more crucial than ever.
TaTaTu, one of the relatively recent examples, is a project trying to revolutionize content by putting users, advertisers, and content providers on an equal footing. Sounds like you’ve heard it before, right? Still, the company raised a whopping $575 Million in its private sale this Summer. Moreover, the list of its investors includes Prince Felix of Luxembourg, BlockTower Capital, Lady Monika Bacardi, and Lyna Capital. On top of that TaTaTu speakers claim that their own content is already in production and features some big names like Oscar nominee Jeremy Renner (known for Avengers and Mission Impossible), Antonio Banderas and Alec Baldwin.
Another project worth mentioning to prove the point is Polymath. Prior to their supposed crowd sale (that never happened, by the way, as “after a rigorous year of R&D, user testing, and receiving feedback from top lawyers and developers” POLY tokens were distributed via airdrop) they became one of the largest crypto communities on Telegram, making people fired up about the project due to the announcements of strong partnerships. And they haven’t slowed down since: “Polymath Partners with Prime Trust, an SEC Qualified Custodian, to custody POLY and ST-20 Security Tokens”, “Polymath and V Stock Transfer Partner to Make Compliant Security Tokens a Reality”, “Polymath partners with Blocktrade” – these are just a peek at recent announcements from project’s corporate blog.
But what does it take to network in blockchain community? Is it harder to take people on board with your ideas? Is it any different?
Jaron Lukasiewicz, the CEO and founder of Coinsetter, a Bitcoin trading platform that was acquired by Kraken Bitcoin Exchange in 2016 and recently the CEO of Influential Capital, has been in the field since 2012 and built a broad set of contacts. He summed it up like that: “Many people have come up to me at conferences over the years. Some have approached me as inferiors or needing something from me, and others have approached me as equals. The latter always wins. I generally ended up working with companies who I met through an introduction or the ones demonstrated some other social proof.”
But there are still ways to get through. Future Times talked to some notable characters in the space to learn from their experience.
Blockchain Networking Tip #1: Find the right people to connect with and be valuable to them
Zhuling Chen, co-founder of aelf, Decentralized Cloud Computing Blockchain Network, a project that managed to attract capital from BlockTower Capital, HyperChain Capital, Draper Dragon and dozens of other respective funds, believes that it’s crucial to identify the right person to connect with: “This means to go beyond just general exposure of each person, but to understand what exactly they are doing. This market is a bit noisy and non-transparent. Cross-reference will help to understand the key persons to work with. Conferences and meetups are the best places to meet a wide variety of people. Once connected, follow up emails and chats are crucial to have fruitful discussions. On top of that understand your own value to attract the right people to work with. Projects that managed to get great advisors must have clear innovation and a great team. The better the advisors are, the higher their bar is.”
Blockchain Networking Tip #2: build something useful for your net
Nick Cowan, the CEO of the Gibraltar Blockchain Exchange (GBX), a subsidiary of The Gibraltar Stock Exchange, that aims to position itself as a world-leading institutional-grade token sale platform and Digital Asset Exchange, says that although project’s journey has differed from that of the standard ‘start-up’ blockchain project they still had to build up a network of contacts in order to attract new listings and convince potential stakeholders of Gibraltar’s credentials that they are a blockchain-friendly place to do business.
“When it comes to networking, being proactive is vital. We recognised global skills shortage within the industry and so, to help bridge that gap, we created our own education focused network through Blockchain Innovation Centre (BIC) to support industry workforce in Gibraltar for the new digital era. Establishing a broad network among local stakeholders as well as focusing on global developer communities is a useful strategy for blockchain start-ups, particularly in smaller jurisdictions. With the help of BIC, we’ve worked in partnerships with local and international startup hubs, universities, and industry associations from across the globe to connect Gibraltar into a wider network. We have also partnered with Startup Grind Gibraltar to deliver events featuring inspirational thought leaders and industry experts from across the globe. These events have brought the blockchain enthusiastic community together in Gibraltar, fostering a network that we hope will inspire a willingness to learn and share knowledge and experience.” – shares expertise Cowan.
Blockchain Networking Tip #3: Be open-minded and keen to connect with anyone
Ryan Taylor, the CEO of Dash Core, a project that can boast with one of the most vibrant communities in crypto space, thinks that particularly in this industry, to embed yourself into the broader industry, including that outside of cryptocurrency is extremely important.
“This means not only going to blockchain and cryptocurrency conferences, attending networking events, cultivating active communities on channels like Discord and Reddit, and essentially meeting everyone and anyone you can – but, in our case, it also means engaging with the legacy payments companies that cryptocurrency may disrupt. You never know who will be an integral partner or a contributor down the line and having connections in a community that is as tight-knit as the crypto-sphere is integral to having a successful project. It is also important to represent Dash as the world’s most significant financial technology and financial services conferences, like Money 2020 for example, to meet top entrepreneurs, corporate decision-makers and potential business partners.” – comments Ryan.
He also believes that it makes sense to stay open-minded: “I think it’s also important to follow and engage with thought leaders with whom I disagree or with whom I have conflicting ideologies. Some of my best learnings about competitive positioning, or views that spark a new idea have come from conversations with project leaders following very different paths from Dash. Too many players in this industry are dismissive of others or overly tribal, but the seeds of new ideas can come from anywhere. For me, open-mindedness and genuine intellectual curiosity can lead to some of the biggest leaps forward, and that curiosity is missing in crypto interactions far too often.” – says the CEO of Dash Core – “One of the more impactful connections I’ve made in my career was reaching out to the founder of Dash, Evan Duffield. I straight up emailed him in the summer of 2014 asking for a meeting, and he promptly replied with an enthusiastic “yes”. Evan was extremely welcoming of ideas, trusting, and refreshingly practical. He also became a big supporter of mine as I became more involved with the Dash project in 2015, and was hugely influential in convincing me to join the team full time in early 2016. We gelled right away and respected each other’s strengths from the beginning. I definitely wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Evan,” – Taylor sums up the story.
Blockchain Networking Tip #4: Utilize the power of social media and be genuine
Mark Jeffrey, co-founder, and CEO of Guardian Circle, seems to know EVERY soul in the field. When browsing his Facebook feed you always seem to notice comments and likes that make any blockchainer envious: here’s a line from Brock Pierce, there’s a word from Michael Terpin, etc. “How on earth can someone get there?” – that is my question.
Mark shares his story: “I’m a little older than an average folk from the blockchain field, and I came from an older world of venture capital that is very highly concentrated in Silicon Valley. It has always been very clubby, and all the VC funds are in one place literally the size of a New York City block. If you throw a bomb there, you will blow up 90 percent of the world’s capital. So, the old technology and traditional networking used to be very centralized and blockchain networking weirdly reflects the tech itself by being extremely decentralized. Opportunities are everywhere. Because it’s not centrally located you have to travel around the world to kind of reach everyone. So, it’s crucial for you to go out there and network not necessarily because of the new people you meet but because of the appearance, it gives you’re serious about your product or whatever it is you are doing in the space.
As for my networking lifehack, I would say for some of my big achievements and deals Facebook has worked out pretty well. It’s great to meet people face-to-face at those events, but Facebook is where actual connections between people are happening. At least that worked for me. The longer my new contacts follow me, the more certainty they have in me as a potential partner. They see my posts, and updates about the progress with Guardian Circle and they know that I’m not trying to rip anybody off. I think people know I’m serious about this, not just taking people’s money. And I’m trying to make it work, I am very sincere about it. There’s a handful of bullshitters in the space and sincerity is very much appreciated.”
Blockchain Networking Tip #5: find your “soulmates”
Since Emercoin is a public blockchain Kostiantyn Bigus, their Managing partner, believes that building a new and stable connection is crucial for driving the project further: “In my mind, if we are talking about new relationships, everything starts from who you are, because being frank and sincere is still important for any business. And from my experience, the more authoritative the company is the more intently it will study their potential partners. All conversations about the technology, business skills, and innovations are important but unless there’s no good connection on some metaphysical level and a good fit in shared values, there’s no use to build a business together. In the worst case scenario when for some reason it’s absolutely crucial to partner with a company known for unhealthy business-making habits, I’d still evaluate the risk-reward ratio. In most cases, the potential outcome of that partnership still won’t be worth taking the risk of potential dishonesty. Therefore, my approach is to find other businesses to network with – the ones that will resonate with you on the level of energy.” – admits Mr. Bigus.