How Olympic Luging And Networking are the Same

You may think that Olympic lugers and early-stage angel investors have nothing in common, until you meet someone who’s done both, and he tells you that Olympic luging and startup networking are basically the same thing. When I was a student at Startup Institute, Ty Danco, founder of eSecLending and BuysideFX, and former Director of Techstars Boston stopped by to explain.[bctt tweet="How Olympic Luging + #Networking are the Same, by @dacunhac ft. @tydanco "] Ty began his luging career in college when he identified the sport as both a passion and one with almost no competition–that is how he ended up at the Olympics, not once, but twice (1980 and 1984). "Go where there is no competition" is a valuable lesson for those eager to join the startup community and was a major theme of Ty’s advice for Startup Institute students. For Ty, it’s a key component he looks for when starting a businesses and choosing companies to back. He doesn’t look for businesses that will be entering in a highly competitive and saturated market, just like he didn’t look to become an Olympian by picking up a soccer ball for the first time in his college dorm room. He chose luging.[bctt tweet="Whether you aim for the Olympics or biz success, go where there is no competition, says @tydanco"]

Ty also emphasized the importance of mentorship. He explained that you can have all the skills and technical chops in the world, but if you’re not discovered, then it doesn’t matter. You need to network and build meaningful relationship with people that will advocate for you. I think about this as search engine optimization for your career: you can build the best website in the world for your business, but if you’re not ranking well on Google's search engine results page and don’t get any traffic, then it really doesn’t matter. If you want to prove that you’re a highly credible and capable person, one of the best ways to do it is by having other highly credible people vouch for you.[bctt tweet="Meaningful #networking is #SEO for your career, says @dacunhac"]

So, how do you identify a highly credible person that’s willing to be your champion? Well, just like getting the New York Times or Mashable to link to your site, it’s not easy. Ty’s recommendation was reminiscent of the basic principles of inbound marketing: give before you get. As a networker, you must over-deliver and prove yourself before you’re going to have a “highly credible” person as your champion. As a business, you must create great content and establish your company as an industry thought-leader before you have a chance of getting authoritative websites to send traffic your way.[bctt tweet="In #networking + #inboundmarketing, give before you get, says @tydanco @dacunhac"]

There is no doubt that this advice takes time, persistence, and hard work to implement. But if you’re striving for success in networking your way to a great career, marketing for a startup, or even Olympic luging, you must be in it for the long-game. As the old adage goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”