It’s hard to believe that the last time I hosted Dot Tales & Cocktails was 11 years ago. The event was part of Seattle’s high-tech “schmooze” circuit, as Manny Frishberg described it in his Seattle Weekly article, “Cash and Cocktails”. The point of this reflection is that short of having an online social network, we were making connections through events, mailing lists, websites, and one on one introductions.
You were vetted and validated as an individual microbrand by your business contacts and friends. And you worked hard to maintain those relationships. A great many of us leveraged these events to raise money, make business contacts, start companies, and sell them, too. At the same time, we transitioned from our twenties to our thirties and started to shift to larger companies that needed entrepreneurial approaches to getting things done. In that moment a lot of us (including me) left those connections behind and our microbrand was integrated into larger ones.
Here are the lessons I’ve learned:
- Curate your relationships – Nurture the ones that help you move forward collectively and be available to those that might only be one-sided.
- You will be surprised – Sometimes it is the people on the periphery that come through. Let yourself be surprised. You’ve made impressions on people you had no expectations of.
- It’s hard work to build your brand – You have to work at it. Meet people in real life, have that phone call, go for coffee, take the lunch meeting. You can only go so far online. Learn to appreciate the face-to-face and try to provide value in your interactions.
- Return the favor – Always, no matter how small.
- Be available – There are a couple of people I know who think being mysterious adds to their persona. In reality, unless you are a celebrity, this approach does not work, and may put people off.
One last point, you never know who you will reconnect with. If I had not started Dot Tales & Cocktails I would have never reconnect with @dianego …although she never attended one of my events.
Over the next series of post I am planning to interview friends, business leaders, and entrepreneurs who I believe have done a great job building their microbrand.