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How to join a startup?

I often get emails from folks that have never done a startup asking me how they can “break into” the startup world and join a great young company.

The traditional way is to network into that company. Find someone you know that knows the people in the company or perhaps one of the investors or board members. This often can work out nicely (assuming of course that you are excellent and fit into the company culture). Those methods are tried and true.

But what if you don’t know anyone at the company?

One suggestion: become an activist of the products that you love. Use them. Blog about them. Write about stuff you want to see in the future and why you think it’s important or fun or whatever. Build stuff with those products. Give feedback to the company. Participate early and often. Get involved. Comment on other blogs with your insight. Maybe the company hires you or maybe you’ll be inspired to start your own company.

Many of our portfolio companies look to hire users of their products. Many if not all of the early employees hired at Twitter, Boxee, Tumblr and others came out of the community.  These folks are not only talented and smart – but they are passionate about the product and it shows.