Crypto may be a newer, smaller industry, but it has its fair share of visionaries — and bad actors. It’s an exciting time to make new connections in crypto as the space opens up and a variety of new projects are launched to explore the industry’s potential. Still, it’s essential to not allow enthusiasm to trump common sense and careful vetting when deciding whether to connect with someone, whether that’s a new partner, team member, entrepreneur or investor.

Crypto’s pioneers have developed a keen sense of what to look for — and what to avoid — when it comes to new industry connections. Below, 10 members of Cointelegraph Innovation Circle talk about both the positives and negatives they watch for when they’re approached by a potential new crypto connection.

Willingness to commit the time to deliver projects

I usually look for connections who have a reputation for delivering on longer-term projects, because this means they’re willing to make needed time commitments. In this category, there are a lot of flash-in-the-pan projects and an abundance of resources, but time is a scarce resource. When I see that someone has committed significant time to an initiative or project, I’m more comfortable connecting with them because they are committing an irreplaceable resource. On the flip side, if I see a lack of time commitment and/or a history of repeated lane-switching on projects, it is a red flag for me (it indicates flakiness). Even understanding that this is a startup culture and that some reactiveness is desirable, my approach prioritizes those who commit time more than anything else on a project. - Mark Soares, Blokhaus Inc.

A collaborative mindset

I want to partner with people who are welcoming and accepting of all levels of understanding. A collaborative mentality is so key right now in this space; we are at the beginning of a very long road, but we can go faster by working together. I also vet connections based on their history with and understanding of not only blockchain but also of the entire digital ecosystem (Web2 included). Experience helps a lot, but it’s not necessary. An understanding of community is really important as well. - Chloe Janicki, Seven20 Entertainment LLC

An understanding of the technology’s potential

I like to learn more about someone’s true motivations for being in the crypto space. Are they purely money-minded and speculative, or is there more substance behind it? This detail is very important to me. I am seeking connections with substance, not wild west-type traders and speculators who are in it just to make a quick buck and who don’t really understand the true potential of distributed ledger-based technologies. - Nimit Sawhney, Voatz

A viable solution for a valid problem

First, I go and read their white paper to make sure they are legitimate. Then I go to cryptobriefing.com, Cointelegraph or Coindesk to vet the project in the cryptocurrency community and measure whether it’s hype, fear of missing out or an actual, legitimate project that I want to be part of. I work to understand who is behind the project by going to networking and online events and listening to the pitch; one of the key factors I look for is whether the problem they are solving is a valid one that is going to remain an issue for the next five to 10 years. I also get in touch with the community of that cryptocurrency, with the blockchain. I interview the head of the community or people working in the community to see if the solution they are providing for that problem is viable. - Kiana Danial, Invest Diva

Join the community where you can transform the future. Cointelegraph Innovation Circle brings blockchain technology leaders together to connect, collaborate and publish. Apply today

A commitment to ethics

When assessing connections, I only want to associate with moral and ethical actors. It’s important to have a space with those who value ethics and who also have a philosophical interest in the movement. Without these key factors, scams and money grabs can, unfortunately, occur, which can have a negative impact within the industry. - Mark Smith, Symbiont

A vision of crypto’s real-world value

I look for a fundamental understanding of the space and how protocols unlock value. A potential connection must have a vision beyond the monetary value of a token; that is, the utility or real-world value that blockchain projects add. Also important is having connections with others I’m already familiar with or early involvement with foundational (preferably layer 1/layer 2) projects, as well as a vision for the space that is both impactful and economically viable for stakeholders. - Christopher Beltran, Beltran Advisors

Objective opinions from their associates and solid expertise

A key piece of vetting someone is looking at the people they associate with, so I highly encourage asking for multiple references so you can get objective opinions about the person or the service they are trying to provide. Asking the right questions concerning someone’s particular expertise is also important; don’t ask generic questions that anyone could easily answer. If someone is brand new in the space, you need to move forward with the understanding that you’re taking risks that you might not be aware of yet. You don’t know what you don’t know, and it’s important to flip that on its head to ensure that you do know enough to move forward. Don’t be another victim; do your due diligence. - Justin Podhola, Elite Mining Inc

Sufficient time and experience in the industry

I look at someone’s longevity in the industry and/or related experience. Lots of people are attracted to the space, but it brings a range of challenges, and not everyone can deliver. It’s my role to ensure that BTC Markets are connected to those who have the experience and ability to drive projects or initiatives forward. - Caroline Bowler, BTC Markets Pty Ltd

Genuine enthusiasm for crypto

I look for authenticity, and I want to work with people who are kind and helpful. And while I’m always looking to connect with other people who are knowledgeable, that’s not the only important thing. I’m also looking for someone who is genuinely excited about the ever-evolving growth and potential of the crypto space. - Tiffany Zhong, Islands XYZ INC 

A well-rounded background

Research, research, research. We have so many tools available at our fingertips to look at people, opportunities, brands, relationships — why not use those tools? Take a moment and dig a bit deeper before throwing yourself into a partnership or opportunity that may not be right. It’s so important to take time to research projects, products and people, because your time is valuable. Things are moving rapidly in our ecosystem; you can’t get caught up for too long in the wrong thing. - Dean Wilson, Seven20 Entertainment LLC


This article was published through Cointelegraph Innovation Circle, a vetted organization of senior executives and experts in the blockchain technology industry who are building the future through the power of connections, collaboration, and thought leadership. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Cointelegraph.

Learn more about Cointelegraph Innovation Circle and see if you qualify to join.