How to Founder Connect

What did I learn from attending ~20 times, during and (hopefully) after Covid (AUS)

Ben Ferrum
4 min readMar 24, 2021

This article is about a concrete event, however you can use these principles and tactics in any other networking occasion.

What is Founder Connect (FC)?

This event is organised by Startup Victora (SUV), a non-profit organisation that is an important facilitator of the Melburnian startup community.

FC itself is a biweekly (fortnightly) fast-paced networking event for entrepreneurs. Before Covid, it was an offline event, during it went online, and now it is alternating between online and offline and gets the benefits of both.

At the event, you sit down and talk to ~ seven people, one at a time, for ~10 mins.

After that, you have breakfast, and you can talk with any attendee for a short while.

What did I get out from FC?

In the last ~20 occasions, I got to know ~140 amazing people, started multiple interesting business ventures (some failed, some still ongoing), ramped up my side hustles and worked up the courage not just to assist others but start a few things by myself ;)

Networking Strategy

— Before —

Get a Ticket to the Event! Tickets are free for Startup Vic members & they can sign up here https://startupvictoria.com.au/sign-up/. If you're not a paid SV member, tickets are $5 pp for the online events & $20 pp for the in-person events on Eventbrite.

The membership is cheaper in the long term. ;)

You could ask why pay for a networking event? The payment filters the crowd to the ones who are willing to invest in themselves.

Bring two pens, some paper/post-it (for quick sketches), business card. If you are using LinkedIn, set it up for the QR code, and don't forget to click connect after you scan someone's code ;)

Go in with a clear, defined intention, a Most Important Question (MIQ), a Most Pressing Need (MPN) because the time is short, and you should not waste it, regardless if it yours or not. Moreover, to add to the earlier point, nobody is a mind-reader to figure out your desire…

At every event, I do meet at least three people who start the conversation with, “oh, I am just here to meet like-minded people…” NO, YOU ARE NOT! After some prodding, they usually confess that they want/need something, and they can be immediately connected with someone who can help, even for free.

Have a small light breakfast before the event. If you used to have breakfast, there would be food, but it is best not to concentrate on the food while networking; you can pay more attention to others.

— During —

Don’t be afraid to take the leap and start with your MPN and some context. You will hear a ring at half time to switch roles. Yes, it is hard to be vulnerable in front of a total stranger. You can work up the courage. Practice makes perfect.

Starting with the MPN saves time, and your “date” could help you realise that your MPN is not the best MPN to solve, and you just saved precious 2 mins from a total of 10.

Switch roles around the half-time ring. If the conversation is one-sided, let the other party speak about themselves, or turn the tables if the other is talking too much, and the conversation feels unbalanced.

If you want to be connected with the person, don’t forget to GET the contact details. People are forgetful, doing a thousand this, drowning in their busyness. Please help them by doing the groundwork of collecting the contact details.

Sidenote: On the online event currently the organizers are using icebreaker, and on the https://icebreaker.video/matches page you can find all of your matches, immediately after you matched with them, so you can share links while you are talking, and also if you send a message there, they get an email, ergo you don’t have to spam the group chat like everybody else, 20 times with your bouquet of links. Yes, you guessed correctly, it annoys me…

Talk to the interesting ones after the events formal part is finished to deepen the conversation, schedule follow-ups if both parties want to meet, connect people who did not meet but could benefit from each other.

— After —

Write a small follow up to everyone you talked to, send the promised links, contacts, schedule the additional meetings.

Sign up for the SUV slack.

Reflect on what you could do better next time.

If you have an MPN, drop an email to ben@apexai.info, or write in the SUV slack to talk to the entrepreneurs and startup founders in the community, 60.000 people and still counting is an enormous force to help you solve your Most Pressing Need.

--

--