Wow! That was tiring, I stepped on the L at 7:30AM and didn’t get home until 1:30AM the next morning! 18 hours of pure madness! Most people noticed the great speeches by Gary Vee from Wine Library TV and Dick Costolo (aka ask the wizard) and others. But what I really appreciated was the other things that the day brought to me. When Frank Gruber and Eric started TECH cocktail, one of the goals was to enable the interaction of people and removing barriers between entrepreneurs, funding sources and removing the boundaries between Chicago and the rest of the world.
When I sit at the first TECH cocktail CONFERENCE Chicago watching great speeches and meeting people from startups from both the east and west coasts while talking, playfully joking about Internet concepts and trading ideas with a local Chicago angel investor in the back of the room for hours on end – it’s at that moment one can clearly perceive a vision is starting to become reality…
For a first conference, it was very well run. There were those little things with a venue that didn’t go quite right with the elevators and not having enough power outlets (but you could say that about any conference) but those were out of their direct control. You could see that Eric and Frank went out of their way to challenge the audience about topics that too often go ignored at startups, like how to set up a corporate entity properly, partnerships and most of these challenges and experiments went well.
So what’s next? I’d like to challenge each and every person in TECH cocktail community to take things to the next level by taking the following actions:
1. Follow Up – People need to work to get to know each other better and learn to leverage each person’s special gifts and talents and realize that 1 + 1 > 2 when we behave in this manner. For me, I know that creating new business partners while listening to help iterate the product, data model or service is my area of strength.
2. Change TECH cocktail from an event to an everyday process on your own – a three month cycle time is not sufficient to build relationships to the next level – it’s everyone’s responsibility to make an hour here and there to sit down with someone, learn about what they are doing, give them a fresh perspective and potential assistance. Don’t wait for the next TECH cocktail event. If this means you need to organize your contact info, make that important time investment.
3. Listen to what Dick Costolo had to say about Internet company NDAs and then change your behavior accordingly (where is the video of that speech anyway?) – Stop sending people NDAs that serve no purpose other than to destroy your access to people who are the most qualified to help you. Ideas are a dime a dozen, assembling the right people with the current knowledge and future potential to create that reality is what matters.
4. Go beyond lurking, participate!!! During the conference, I had at least 10 people talk to me about a blog post of mine in detail, yet they’ve never left a comment on my blog. That’s sad. Leaving a comment leaves you a hyperlink back to your business or blog and allows distribution of one’s business network organically removing them as the bottleneck, please use this viral tool.
5. Learn to hire people for their current knowledge, network, blogs and future potential - not legacy job titles and brands – this takes work, research and being involved in the community, but it is how you’ll find the breakthrough thought leaders and future superstars.
6. Become an ambassador to expanding the understanding of the tools we all use and expand our base of understanding to new people outside our core – If you have a client or operate a service do they understand what Internet advertising, blogs, rss, social media, twitter, etc do? If they do is their organizational culture and structure set up to handle it to serve a customer’s needs? Many people know there is a problem but do not know where to start to fix it – I want to help those people as it will ease the adoption and enhance demand for disruptive new Internet services. I’m planning a series of future posts on this important, yet highly untouched topic. If you have examples of success stories or learnings in this area, I’d love to hear from you.
What else would you add to this list? I look forward to your contributions.