Dissatisfied with your current opportunities for networking? Ask yourself: how would a true entrepreneur handle it?
Do you feel like a fish out of water at your local networking events?
Maybe you live in a cutthroat startup hub and find the fact that everyone is trying to prove they’re ‘crushing it!’ more than the next guy, a bit hard to take. Or maybe you’re in a more out of the way locale and are struggling to find others with similar business dreams. Maybe you’re usually the only woman in the room -- or the only one working in your sector.
You’re an entrepreneur, after all, and what does that mean? You take ideas and make them reality. So perhaps you should kill two birds with one stone and both create the sort of networking gathering you’ve always dreamed of AND exercise your entrepreneurial muscles all at once. That’s what Johnston Rue did:
Can’t find an event that’s up your alley? Create it! When we were first getting started with InstaEDU, I wanted to get to know other edtech entrepreneurs better, but there weren’t any events that were specifically for edtech founders (as opposed to the entire community). So I made a list of founders I knew and founders I would be interested in meeting and invited them all to a happy hour at our office. The entire event took about two hours to organize, and it helped me meet and get to know the exact people I wanted to connect with.
I’ve seen others organize regular get-togethers for founders, asking everyone to bring a +1 who would enjoy the group. As a result, the group grows each time it meets, but always with interesting and relevant individuals.
With a two-hour investment of time, not only did Johnston Rue ensure she would make the exact types of connections she needed to move her business forward (and actually enjoy a networking event), she also made certain those connections would arrive for the happy hour primed with ample evidence that their host is the sort of go getter who turns ideas into reality. Win and win.
Sure, being this sort of social butterfly may be daunting if you’re a quiet type who already struggles with networking, but having hosting responsibilities is actually an oft-cited technique to help introverts manage social stress. It’s easier to chat and mingle while you’re arranging the cheese platter or stocking the fridge, the thinking goes. Plus, by controlling the guest list, you’re guaranteed to not run into that guy you dread seeing. So maybe it’s time to think about sending out some invites in 2014.
JESSICA STILLMAN is a freelance writer based in London with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM, and Brazen Careerist. @EntryLevelRebel