Sarah Hodges

It’s Not Them, It’s You: Connect & Pay it Forward

In Startups on November 8, 2011 at 9:48 pm


This post focuses on the Boston startup scene, but anyone anywhere can get connected and become a connector. Get on it, and don’t forget to pay it forward…

“How the hell did I get here?”
As I stood in the Copley Fairmont Hotel Ballroom at DB Tech Prom last month, I couldn’t help but wonder, how the hell did I get here? Just a little over a year ago, I was a Boston startup scene outsider. But suddenly there I was, taking in the sight of hundreds of startuppers Boogieing down to 80s jams, loving every minute of it.

It’s Not Them, It’s You
Last fall, I remarked to my buddy, Aaron White, that it seemed he was a member of an exclusive club of startup folks in Boston. It’s such a clique, I argued, how can new entrepreneurs and startup peeps break into the circle?

Turns out, it wasn’t them…it was me. I was standing on the other side of the glass looking in, when all I had to do was open the door. Want to connect with startup folks? Speak up, get out, and network up a storm. It’s up to you to make the first move!

Have Some Fun (and maybe a few libations)
Sure, there’s a lot you can do to start meeting people in Boston from behind the safety of your MacBook Air…but c’mon, that’ll only get you so far. I’m a bit of an introvert, so it was tough for me to get out and socialize when I first joined the RunKeeper team last fall. I remember my patient co-worker, Tom Boates, practically holding my hand as he introduced me to folks at a BostInnovation party.

You know what also helped that night? A few cocktails. Nothing lets your guard down better than an open bar…Seriously though, some people are more comfortable in a formal environment, but I thrive in a social setting, where I can weave work in with play. Cort Johnson recently wrote a great blog post about the power of experiential events to foster meaningful connections. BostInnovation, DartBoston and a host of others have done a fantastic job creating innovative startup events this year, so there are plenty of opportunities to kick up your heels while you network your tail off. If you’re more fiesta than fireside chat, make sure to tailor your event calendar to include environments in which you feel comfortable.

Got a game plan?
Don’t know where to start? Check out these tips for how to break into the scene:

- Rob Go’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Boston Startup Scene is an awesome step one.
- Greenhorn Connect also has a killer event calendar.
- Don’t forget to follow @DBTechProm, @BostonBoogie and #rubyriot for the inside scoop.

With A Little Help from Your Friends…
I’ve been amazed at how supportive the startup community has been this year; there are connectors everywhere. Every time I’m at an event with Jennifer Lum she asks, who do you want to meet today? Get in the habit of having a list at the ready of people you’d love to meet in the Boston startup scene; whether you’re at a social event, a conference, or a Meetup, chances are someone you know knows someone on your list, and would be more that happy to make the connection.

Here’s a quick shoutout to some of the folks who have been generous with their time & intros:

- Jennifer Lum
- Cortlandt Johnson
- Jake Cacciapaglia
- Mike Troiano
- Dave Balter
- Aaron White
- Matt Lauzon
- Kai Gray

Pay It Forward
There’s a reason Matt Lauzon was able to bring together 1,000 startuppers to #payitforward at this year’s #rubyriot—Bostonians are down to help out. It’s great to be connected, but don’t forget to pay it forward!

Sarah Hodges Tech Prom Boston

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