This has always been hard for me, I am not exactly the outgoing type and I have a feeling that most of us geeks aren’t. I feel very comfortable working in a dark corner listening to my favorite tunes and coding away… I don’t have a problem socializing in the internet but doing it in person is not as easy… right?
Several months ago I realized that spending a lot of time in front of the computer and doing most of my socializing online wasn’t going to cut it. Specially if you are either trying to build a startup, looking for a new job, or perhaps just looking to meet like-minded people. I do interact with a lot of people in Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn… but I always enjoy (exponentially more) when I get to meet and talk to people in person, the communication is better.
Having a chance to talk to people in person, ask questions, get immediate feedback, being able to read their face reactions when you are talking with them (I get many funny faces, must be because of my accent :)) and just being able to join a conversation with many people and do it in person is priceless. Online conversations cannot beat that, even if you use Skype…
I mentioned above that I realized how much better it was to actually get out there and talk to people in person… well, it wasn’t all my idea, in fact, I knew meeting people in person was better than just meeting people online but it wasn’t until I hear Ash Maurya at a TechRanch meeting talk about the importance of getting out there and talk to people, that I really made this a priority. In this meeting, several months ago, Ash told us about the importance of talking to potential clients about an idea for a product or service as a way to get “real” validation from people who actually could become your paying customers.
This advice is not only good for people working in their startups, this is also good for people looking for a job or just looking to expand their professional and personal network. You see, when you meet with someone in person, it is easier to get their full attention.
You can communicate better, the human face and body language are rich in meaning and emotion.
Last year I started to attend more in-person events and I am very happy of having done so. I have met people in person who I have been talking to online and known for a number of years. This past August I attended The Founder conference in Mountain View, CA and met Alain Raynaud. Alain is the organizer of this conference and the organizer for a Meetup about Co-Founders in Silicon Valley. A few months after meeting Alain, we decided to start a Meetup group here in Austin about startups looking for Co-Founders, I probably wouldn’t have done this have I not met Alain, having the opportunity of meeting him in person was definitely an advantage.
In October, I attended the Business of Software conference in Boston and I had the great opportunity to meet in person some of the speakers which are people I admire from different parts of the world like Joel Spolsky, Neil Davidson, Dharmesh Shah, Seth Godin, Paul Kenny, Giacomo ‘Peldi’ Guilizzoni, Jason Cohen, Scott Farquhar, Derek Sivers, Rob Walling and of course, one of my heroes, The Father of the Spreadsheet – Dan Bricklin.
At Business of Software, I also had the opportunity to meet great people who I only knew online prior to this event, for example Zuly Gonzalez and Steve Wilkinson which I met on answers.onstartups.com. There were many more great people at this event who I had the opportunity to meet in person and I am hoping I can see them again this year at the same event.
Locally, I attended various local meetups, parties and events such as Capital Factory’s Demo Day where I met many great entrepreneurs from Austin and many of the people helping to grow entrepreneurship in this city such as Josh Baer, Jason Cohen from Capital Thought, Kevin Koym and Austin Gunter from TechRanch and many more. There was also people from out-of-town which I met at local events here in Austin such as Gary Vaynerchuck which helped me get some of my first blog subscribers just by twitting (or is it tweeting?) about my blog – thanks!
Getting out of my office and attending these events has helped me meet very cool and smart people in Austin and all over the place, I have also learned a lot about technology, business, blogging, marketing, etc… just by listening to people and asking questions.
Meeting people in person sure beats meeting people in Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and some of the other social networks I use, trust me, it is better and more fun!
I am a geek, I am not a sales person or marketing guru… I am shy, I am an introvert. Yet, I see the real benefit of getting out there and meet people who share the same interests regarding technology, startups, etc… Yes you can do this using online social networks, but doing it in person is more fun, in my opinion. Staying home and sitting in front of your computer or TV also can be harmful to your health…
Getting out to meet people can also help your startup, or help you find your next gig. For example, If you have an idea for a software product, before you even start coding or designing the application, go talk to some people to validate your idea, preferably people who could become your clients. Even experienced entrepreneurs do this when starting a new business, and they do it because they know you can’t just build something in hopes people will love it so much they will give you money for it. Before you do anything else, go and talk to people about it, ask them what they think of your idea and if they would be willing to pay money for this product or service.
Many of you might ask, how do we go about talking to people in-person about our idea? where do we start?, my answer to that is, go out, go to the same events your potential customer go to, meet them, introduce yourself and just ask. You can always start by asking online, places like LinkedIn Answers, Twitter and forums like this are good starting points, but none of these services are better than being able to ask someone face-to-face and hear not only their answer but also get to see their reactions and read their body language… very important I think.
Yes, I know that there is also Google Ads, landing pages, etc… However, when you are just starting a company and all you have is an idea, talking to people is very important because the more you talk about your idea the better you’ll learn to describe it and you’ll also have an opportunity to validate it by asking questions and getting feedback from potential clients.
It is easy to just sit at home and complain why you are not moving forward, why not one is calling you about a job, or why no one seems to be interested in your new company… or blog. Get out there, talk to people and find out, ask questions, answer questions.
Just go out and if nothing else, you’ll be able to see what’s going on outside your cave and maybe you’ll meet some cool people.
If you are in Austin, just look here for local tech events, or you can just Google for events in your city. Also, we are having the second Co-Founder Austin Meetup on February, 17th, come say Hi and talk to other geeks and entrepreneurs. There is also food and drinks and who knows, maybe this is the place where you’ll meet your co-founder or start working for a cool startup…