Recently, we hosted brunch, and someone asked how, after living in Austin for only six months, were we able to throw our first annual ‘Naughty or Nice’ holiday party and have 40 curated guests show up.
It comes down to masterful networking.
I arrived in Austin, with two goals: To become part of the business community and to make friends.
Before Austin, we’d lived in Seattle where I had a powerful network and a solid group of friends. I’d read that it’s hard for adults (without young kids) to make friends, so we dialed up our curiosity and got friendly.
As Raj and I walked in our South Congress neighborhood, I saw a house with a dark-colored deck. The owner was standing outside, and I yelled to him, “Hey! Is your deck black?! I love black!” We started talking and learned he was a former art dealer who had traveled the world. Weeks later, he was sitting at our dining room table having brunch.
Another neighbor recapped how we met her. She and her husband were walking out of their driveway as Raj and I drove by. I hung my head out the window and yelled, “Hey, do you work at the UN?” (Another neighbor tipped us off.)
As one would imagine, she hesitantly answered… “yes.”
“Cool! We’re your new neighbors,” I yelled back. “Let’s get a glass of wine!” And we sped off. Fast forward to today, she’s sitting at our table sipping mimosas.
I’m a fundamentalist when it comes to building relationships.
Yes, for those wondering, I am still an introvert. But goals are goals, and I’m Type A. When it comes to networking, I build it before I need it.
In Austin, I wanted to meet technology leaders. I didn’t want anything from them other than advice on meeting more people like them and becoming part of the ecosystem.
I was lucky enough to meet Amos Schwartzfarb, CEO of Austin’s TechStars, who invited me to become a mentor for the next class of start-ups. That created a domino effect. One interesting person is a force multiplier to meet more interesting people.
But back to brunch. We were talking about a famous chef who lives in a black house behind us. Besides black decks, black houses are also a thing in Austin. Who knew! There are probably 10 black houses just in my neighborhood, and I’d like to be the 11th (Raj sees it differently.)
Anyway, this chef is known as kind of salty. Someone at the table said, you’ll have to meet him and invite him to your ‘Naughty or Nice’ party next year.
“Ha!” I said. “Next year, he’ll be catering it!”
So what’s my secret sauce to masterful networking? Ask yourself:
It takes time, effort, and intention, but the investment is 1,000 percent worth it. BTW – In Austin, people show up to parties on time, if not early. Seriously!
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