It’s a Thursday afternoon and you’ve landed in Boston. You’ve probably already dismissed the plane conversations that were as forced as the seating arrangement. Now you’re looking to escape the airport and make real connections. Take the Silver Line Bus to the Red Line, and jump off at Kendall Sqaure. This is where you’ll find the place to start a tech discussion – The Cambridge Innovation Center’s Venture Cafe.
As you enter, you’ll exchange your email for a name tag with a number on it. This is how many times you’ve attended. There are 2’s. There are 3’s. There are 203’s. Don’t worry, it’s not a segregated class system as you might expect. I once knew a 3 that loved a 2. Everyone accepted them as they were.
Venture Cafe can be broken down into three separate networking feats.
- Open Office Hours – Where you get to talk to local startup celebrities. (That’s a thing.)
- Info Sessions – Wise sages give introductory courses on their specialty.
- Beer & Wine – Four premium beverages on tap. (This is a novice event; 3 drink limit.)
The premise, and best practices, for the event is to go in with an open mind and leave your pitch at home. The best networking is a chaotic mind map where both parties don’t know the end but love the process. You might go in speaking to a marketing expert and leave a co-founder to a hardware startup.
Venture Cafe acts as a second office to season veterans. Erik Modahl, founder of Beantrust, is a coffee driven super connector that matches your personality to other like minded people. Chuck Goldstein, marketing fixture, helps startup founders refine their stories for national spotlight. They all contribute their expertise for free as part of the community model that Venture Cafe hopes to promote.
Every week is a different set of characters, sponsors, and conversations. Should you be in Boston a while, join their companion newsletter Starthub. There is no shelf-life to the people you’ll meet here. Come in town, stay a little, or move. No matter what, you’ll make connections for life.
ProTip: This is a heavy social media environment. Leave your business cards at home. Most of the time people will connect via LinkedIn or Twitter.