Thoughts on Networking: Fun is Key

Posted on June 12, 2007

I don’t know about you but when I hear the word networking I think of Keith Ferrazzi’s portrait of the “networking jerk.” That is to say I think of people crammed into a beige room all trying to hand out as many business cards as they can while continually looking for the next best person to talk to. Unfortunately I think this type of scenario still occurs all too frequently and I am not convinced it does anyone much good.

In my mind the true key to solid “networking” is to have fun with people and become genuine friends with them.

Frank and I based TECH cocktail on that belief and the event has grown like crazy. People from other cities have even started to e-mail us asking when we’ll be doing a TECH cocktail in their city.

Sure, that’s great and all but does any business get done as a result of TECH cocktail? (I love asking myself questions in posts.) The answer is a resounding yes.

I know numerous people who have found great employees, great jobs, co-founders and friends they can work on projects with. I’m also sure that VCs may find some deals within the TC crowd if it hasn’t happened already.

More and more events are now popping up that center on fun with networking as an afterthought. One of my favorite is the Labor vs. Capital dodgeball game that my friend David Hornik co-hosted recently.

The basic gist of that event was that VCs would play entrepreneurs in dodgeball while on trampolines (hey, who doesn’t like a good tampoline playing surface). As you can see from the video on Jason Shellen’s blog it seems to have been a big success although it remains to be seen if the embattled VCs will ever fund anyone from the Labor team ever again. Kidding of course (or am I…). I definitely think that the same good business connections will come of that dodgeball game even though networking wasn’t the focus.

Hopefully we’ll see more fun events going forward as I believe they are the future of networking. Ultimately you work with people you like (if at all possible) and I’m not sure you can start to be friends with people through business card exchanges alone.

Side note: Who’s up for a TECH cocktail softball game this summer? Maybe we could do the Labor vs. Capital thing or Web vs. other tech.

Side note to the side note: You can’t spell funding without fun. Think about it.


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3 Comments so far
  1. Whitney June 13, 2007 8:09 am

    I agree- I hate the word “networking” because it always strikes me as a “What Can I Do For Me?” sort of thing. The vibe at Podcamp and other successful tech events tends to be a connecting with others with similar interests in a “What could we do together, or for each other?” goal. It’s about the people as people, not strictly about commerce and competitive advantage.

    Yet other words like “Meet-up” sounds sort of like a blind-date at the mall; Is “New Media Playdate” more appropriate?

    We certainly need to find some other vocabulary that conveys our meaning more concisely, because the Networking Event sounds like a used car lot full of tech people.

  2. […] Media PlayDates Jump to Comments I read a post over on Eric Olson’s blog about networking, and how the heart of a good New Media networking event is fun.  Having been […]

  3. Jason Jacobsohn June 13, 2007 8:58 pm

    Networking is about building sustainable relationships for the long term. It is true that you will find people who only care about themselves and what you can do for them. These are the people who may come across very sales like. Just move on and talk to someone else if you encounter someone like this. The key with networking is helping others before you ask for help. By having this mindset, you will be able to build better relationships. Also, you need to get to know people on both a business and personal level for the relationship to last. TECH Cocktail is still about networking but it is a fun atmosphere with fun people. View every opportunity as a chance to build a relationship.