EVENTful | #TechNightOut

If you follow me on Twitter, you know I love networking events. New people, new places, new things to learn -- what's not to love?

The best part of these meetings is that they're usually centered around a particular topic or industry, which means everyone there starts with some common ground. While I will definitely talk to the proverbial brick wall without this mutual understanding, it does generally mean the other attendees are more open to chatting with random strangers about random topics. 

You never know where the chance relationships made at these events will take you. Among other things, I've had job leads, service discounts and product beta tests offered, and in general just had some really excellent industry conversations. There's plenty of research around the benefits of networking, but that's another post for another time.

Anyway, since I attend a slew of different networking events across ATL, I wanted to start recapping and sharing as I go. There are many options in the city every night of the week, and hopefully this will help bring one or two to light that you didn't know about but would love to try. (If this is not your thing and you prefer another thought-piece on client success or startups instead, you can skip this and I'll deliver something more in-depth in a few days, I promise.) 

Last week, I went to #TechNightOut and spent some time chatting with ATL tech folks. Hosted by General Assembly Atlanta and Hypotamus, the premise is "bringing together the whole Tech community once a month to let loose and have fun at Tech Night Out."

While I'm not sure that the tech community needs that much loosening up (most of the tech spaces I'm familiar with are full of casual clothes and beer ... LOTS of beer), I like the premise. The tech world does have a tendency to get immersed in work to the detriment of  things like social relationships. 

This month's #TechNightOut was at Ormsbys, but the location changes each time, so you get to find little corners of the city you didn't know existed. 

And although Atlanta's a big city, the tech scene is a small town -- while standing in line to check in, I ran into one friend-of-a-friend, one Atlanta Tech Village member, and someone I'd previously met at a Zendesk user group. Small world!

The ATV member and I had passed in the halls but never really talked, so we finally had a chance to swap names and companies. He was a recently appointed Client Success Manager, and as the only one at his growing startup, he asked for some advice. We had a really in-depth conversation about making clients happy versus successful, how to track metrics to show value to your boss, and where churn risks vary from industry to industry. He learned something, I learned something, and we both came away feeling a little smarter.

He also introduced me to a PR writer who was interested in a startup position, and I got a business card that I passed along to my marketing department. (We're looking for a full-time content writer, but it appears those are harder to come by than you'd think, what with the decline of newspapers and all.) Side note: That is exactly what these events help with, but I've found that often people only hit them up when they're job hunting. I really recommend building your interpersonal connections before you need them, and then these events will click into place at the right time. 

Over an intense game of shuffleboard, I met a programmer who knew some of  the engineers at SalesLoft, and begged him for some hot leads if they had any to spare (we're hiring engineers too. Shocker, I know). Fortunately, he had good things to say about SalesLoft, and promised to send some people our way. 

I also had a quick chat with a woman who coordinates events and does branding awareness for General Assembly itself. She sounds like she really loves her job, and I know they're hiring for a variety of spots, so if you or someone you know is job-hunting, I'd check out the postings here

Finally, I wrapped up the night getting to know the friend-of-a-friend and a few of his colleagues better, and now I have a new connection or two on social media. He's a networking addict too, so I'm sure we'll see each other at the next event. Not to mention that I made a new friend myself!

Overall, solid networking show. Good logistics at the event itself, which is key, though maybe a little more fanfare upfront to bring it to people's attention. I'll definitely be looking for the next #TechNightOut. Hope to see you there!