How to Rock Your Kickstarter Campaign– and Your Social Network.|
In life, we’re all just lonely schoolkids at lunch. Act accordingly.
When I graduated from a state school with a geeky and somewhat decorative degree in History, experience working in an environmental non-profit under my belt, I decided I wanted to try my hand at being a folk musician, which afforded even more stunning opportunity.
So I moved to New York with hardly a penny to my name, an air mattress, a duffle bag, and a guitar, hardly knowing a soul. Two years later, I was able to independently produce an $8,000 album off of the crowd fundraising platform called Kickstarter. People have asked me how to succeed at Kickstarter, and I have two answers, make sure you have a product people want, and make sure you have the network. The product is up to you. Here’s how to get the network.
Actively connect people– and interact.
We’re all lonely schoolkids at lunch waiting for someone to sit with us. The whole point of networking is to create one big lunch table, connecting the goths with the cheerleaders with the nerds. It’s a matter of proving that we’ve all got something in common. So many of us are afraid to invite ourselves over or extend an invitation for fear of rejection. This creates a self fulfilling prophecy: everyone’s afraid, no one will take any action, nobody gets to know anybody.
So help connect people. Depending on whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, interaction will take on different styles and cues, but at the very least a grasp of basic etiquette, learning how to do a proper introduction, and mere acknowledgment of another person’s existence can do absolute wonders.
When you’re in real life situations, learn to listen, to invite people somehow into a discussion or after work drinks, or just simply smile. Online, try to be transparent, engage users instead of just talking at your audience. You’d be amazed at how quickly the world starts to shrink.
Be tangential and curious.
Pursue all your interests and hobbies. Volunteer. You don’t need to be an extrovert. Some of the finest networkers I’ve ever met rarely say a word, but they are genuine and good listeners.
Some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten came from my mama (an introvert): “Go to everything you are invited to until you don’t have to anymore.” I have gotten three jobs– and I’ve funded my Kickstarter campaign– because it reached a diverse group of friends and acquaintances; because I’ve spent a lot of time with different interest groups. These groups included: hipster musicians, traditional folk music singers, old professors, international students, actors, writers, environmentalists, feminists, and Civil War re-enactors.
Three of my biggest donations came from complete strangers– someone who was a friend of a friend. There’s nothing magical about this. It’s simply exposure. This leads to my next point:
You don’t know everything, so don’t delete people.
People love to say “I’ll never see that person again, I’m gonna delete them from Facebook.” If you plan on staying in a rut your entire life you’ll never see them again. Otherwise these people should be bucketed into this category: people you “only see twice a year for 15 minutes.” And some of them are actually quite valuable.
As Malcolm Gladwell elucidates in The Tipping Point, these “weak ties” are rich repositories of opportunity. Why? They’re almost totally unknown to you. They have entire lives you don’t know about, they have acquaintances and friends you don’t know about. You know everything about your best friends’ lives, and you know what opportunities they DON’T have for you. But that IT guy Rufus you talk to at the yearly office party? Or that accountant Martha who goes to Aunt Sybil’s yearly Mary Kay potluck? They might know the investor who will invest in your start-up because they go to Trivia night together at Crocodile Lounge.
Since you’re polite and friendly and listen to Rufus and Martha talk once a year, they might just recommend your start-up to Mr. Investor. You’d be surprised how often that broke guitar player you bought a drink for that night at the bar turns out to know a dozen people who will donate hundreds and hundreds of dollars to your project. It’s happened to me.
No brown-nosing. Seriously. Be genuine.
Treat people as peers: make either contacts or friends, but do not exploit or condescend. Do not approach people with a “what can I get out of you?” mentality. Replace that with “how can we be good contacts for each other?” This presupposes that this person is your equal, and not just a rung on a ladder.
Don’t suck up. It will work for narcissists, but do you want to work with a narcissist? Savvy people can smell this a mile a way and will look down on you for it. Just be genuine and soon the right people will fall into place. The thing is to cultivate a sense of camaraderie and community with people. Create your crew.
Adapt. Be flexible.
We all come from a very specific experience set. This article might not ring true to those of you who didn’t have all the opportunities I had or people who have different personality traits than I do. But look at it this way: one person’s French Film Club could be another’s online message board for favorite TV characters. One person’s mixer at a fancy bar in Manhattan could be going out with a coworker to meet their friends at a Chili’s or a dive bar. One person’s hipster band could be another’s church choir. One person’s internship could be another person’s part-time job at a McDonald’s. One person’s Ivy League is another’s community college night class.
The point is, as a friend quoted to me the other day, to “do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”