The other day I wrote a post about using social media sites to network. The article covered different kinds of networking that you could conduct with those sites. Today, I’d like to talk about actual real-life networking (not to be confused with Second Life networking).
I have to admit that I’ve been really bad about networking over the past few years; most of my interactions with other people have been online or via the telephone. While this has been effective, it has not been enough. Today, I started a new day in my life – I actually attended a live, in-person networking event. The event was in Boulder and was called the OpenCoffee Club, “A place for people who love startups to hang out and meet.” It was phenominal!
Photo from April 10, 2007 Open Coffee Club in Boulder
NOTE: The OpenCoffee clubs are actually taking place all over the world, not just here in Colorado.
I connected with a ton of good people – entrepreneurs, VCs, and other similar folk. We shared ideas, exchanged information, and passed out cards. While that may sound really boring to some of you, it is thrilling for me! I take that attitude that I can learn something from everyone, and I have done that in many ways already today.
I will absolutely be staying in touch with many of the people I met and it seems like we can all be helpful to one another in some way shape or form. That is the essence of networking!
Lets backtrack for a minute, though. In a previous life, I was involved in the entertainment business and was quite fond of networking, but I learned something while doing it: most people in the entertainment business want to know what you can do for them and don’t even think about what they can do for you. It is a selfish, ego-based system of networking. I found out today, that there are other communities (like the startup, entrepreneur, VC, etc) where people are actually willing to help one another without the immediate expectation of something in return. It is very nice.
How do you go about finding networking groups like the OpenCoffee Club?
Here are a few resources that should be of some help:
Primary Sites to Explore
- Meetup – I mentioned this one before; Look for local groups meeting about your interests, or create a group of your own.
- Upcoming.org – similar to Meetup; people can post events and you can simply meet up!
Secondary Sites to Explore
- Craigslist – people frequently post networking meetings on the events section (Community)
- MySpace – see craigslist above
I hope my experiences can, if anything, help to motivate someone else who might think that these things are just a waste of time.
Just get off the computer and network!