Just attending networking events wasn’t productive time spent for us. In an environment where most people want to talk about what they’re doing, the outgoing people are going to get more attention, even in the small 4 – 5 people groups that cluster together. This was a long-learnt lesson for us. We thought we needed to attend more functions/events, be seen more etc. What we found was that if the same people were attending the same events and functions we were, natural groups started to form and the same conversations seemed to keep happening. It wasn’t a great audience to even do validation with. It seemed like it should be but instead we found that people were either there for their own idea or their own narrow issue/problem related to the function (like a talk from a fund-raising speaker). Long story short… don’t attend gatherings expecting to sell our idea or get someone too excited about what you are doing.
Build street cred’ first.
We had much more success when we started to attend more structured programmes. Our greatest success came from participating in a product/market validation programme run, in part, by Mum’s Garage. What ended up working for us was sitting back and listening to other non-technical people talk about their ideas, and giving technical advice. This helped us build credit within the group. That, in-turned, helped us out as those same people, who were either sales or marketing people, started to give us back advice on how the things we really struggled with, pitch and a targeted market. Helping others out makes those around you more likely to help you.
If you can’t sell someone on your idea, then you need to come across as someone who is really good in your field that they’re prepared to go a-head and ‘get-it’ later on.
Once you start getting assistance and advice on some sales basics like your elevator pitch, getting that fine-tuned, and those that are helping out start to get your idea, then you’re in a solid place to start, and likely to, get a serious response from the non-technical people. These will come either from that person you’ve been working with to perfect your pitch, or more likely from someone they know now they “get-it”.
If you’re not having much traction finding non-technical co-founders and you’re too busy, lack the resources, or just not the type of person to invest in this type of circular help maybe due to the risk/fear of giving more than you’ll get back; trade on your reputation you so people will trust you on faith. If you still aren’t getting the traction you need then there are paid for marketing/sales services to help you ensure you are pitching in the right way to potential co-founders. Selling to them might be different to selling to your target audience, you might need more than one pitch.