Mike Greenfield of the great new blog Numerate Choir makes a couple of important points about forming meaningful professional relationships in the course of building technology startups.
There are relevant messages here for those of us specifically focused on events as a way to build community, too.
Some entrepreneurs spend half their time at conferences meeting people, at networking dinners schmoozing, on Twitter chatting up a storm. In some cases this is a good use of their time and in other cases it’s kind of a waste.
While I spend most of my day thinking about events, there’s no doubt that an over-reliance on coffeeshop meetings and networking cocktail sessions keeps many of us focused on the wrong things, instead of making real value. What makes events so potentially powerful, however, is that a single face-to-face, emotional connection with a person can equal hours of cubicle effort on business development or even product work, from a monetization standpoint.
Events are not the only way to build an important network, however. (They’re just a nice way to save money by getting your calories from beer and the cheese plate.) Mike points out that he’s made some powerful professional connections from interviewing job candidates, even if a hire didn’t result.
The genuine sharing of interests and resultant respect is something “networkers” of any type could stand to remember in their relationship-building:
Of course, I truly got to know the people who came in multiple times. We talked about our goals as a company, their professional aspirations, and how to write code to find anagrams. It went beyond being a purely transactional relationship.
Mike’s not doing “networking” as the term is often understood (with cocktails and name tags), but he’s absolutely building a network, and around an even stronger signal of shared connection (a desire to work together on a project both people care about).
Great stuff and something I’m trying to keep in mind as we open our hiring process.