While in London, I met an interesting character in charge of a LARGE corporation’s digital production division.
Quick bio: Developer in his early 20’s, in charge of pivoting a legacy team into new technology, without any support or guidance on how to make a new business model (which was theoretical) work.
He’s been doing a tremendous job, day-to-day. He has a good internal team working on the problems, ancillary divisions – from Marketing to Sales to Pre-production – are all pitching in, and he’s putting in the hours to do his homework on the industry. He’s flying out to conferences and attending the local ones held by industry leaders.
Once this character met all the smart people in his competing companies, he found out two things
1.) They were just as young as him
2.) They knew just as much as he did, more or less
So he did the smartest thing ever: He started a “happy hour” at a local pub; industry-specialists only.
In ye olden times, this was considered “networking”. Networking is a great activity and like all great things in life, they’re eventually tainted by schmoozers. This did not happen for our hero in London. This man formed what became a concert of colleagues and friends. They spent weeks knocking back pints and trying to figure out massive problems. They weren’t looking for gigs or swapping stories, they were debating and thinking. This variety of people, many who our hero did not know, became friends and through the course of debating matters and making discoveries, they pulled others into their circle and formed alliances, and mentors entered the mix, and it became a powerful confederacy of industry experts.
It worked out well. It’s working out well. They’re meeting, every week, and solving problems in London.
I want to do this in NYC, and I think I’m going to push for a good happy-hour location in the late spring. Moreover, if you’re young and just starting the scene, I’d recommend doing this ASAP. Anyone got a place they suggest? Thinking General Assemb.ly but that might be too packed at this stage. A little too much noise and not enough signal.