Networking Around the Northwest

It’s seems like it is hard to go a couple of days without some sort of networking event in Seattle. But what do people who live elsewhere around the Northwest do with their evenings? I set headed out to a number of other local cities to get the story on Networking outside Seattle.

I started in Portland, where I was warmly welcomed at the Portland E-Que. The event, held monthly at the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame and Museum, boasts to be Portland’s best “schmoozing” event for the entrepreneur. “No speeches…No presentations…Just good food, drink and ample opportunity to talk with Portland’s finest Internet and technology folks.”

The catch-line proved to be very accurate at this comfortable event. A large group of entrepreneurs, PR folks, and techies filled the hall, chatting casually amongst each other over beers and a light dinner.

According to Gary Romans, Partner, Strategic Business Services at Technoloft Interactive, and organizer of the E-que, the event gives a good opportunity for the close-knit Portland tech community to get together and really relate.

“In the start-up world, networking is standard,” says Romans. “It’s the way to find the people you’re trying to get at.”

In the same casual spirit is the Portland Pint. This “nothing-but-networking” event follows a simple ideology and method. “You want to expand your network. So, when you arrive on the scene, locate someone you do not know who is without drink, find out what they’d like to drink, and then buy it for them.”

This ideology has led the Pint event to be known for providing a very good time. “We’ve practically formed a sub-culture in our city,” says Augi Garred, Co-Founder & Brand Mantis of Pint.Org. “When we started the Pint, we had no idea just how many people were out there thirsting for something like this.”

The event varies location from month to month. The organization is also expanding, with sister events in Boston and Spokane, and further expansion into three other locales in 2001.

For those looking for a more formal networking scene, the city of Portland offers a number of more conventional Networking opportunities.

Internet Professionals Northwest hosts a very popular monthly meeting for its members and the general public. These meetings are designed to help developers and others learn more about how the Internet is changing, and will continue to change the ways business is conducted.

The Software Association of Oregon also hosts a number of special interest groups and seminars that afford networking opportunities. In addition the SAO serves host for two annual events: A celebrity golf tournament and an auction.

After exploring where our neighbors to the South were networking, I headed up across the Canadian border to survey the scene in Vancouver.

First Tuesday, a globally recognized name in networking, hosts a major event in Vancouver.
Bob Seeman, CEO of First Tuesday, Vancouver, describes the invitation-only event as a party with a purpose. He further describes the events as international, classy, and cozy, featuring no more that 160 people at networking events, and no more than 60 at matchmaking events.

According to Seeman the events lay emphasis on people meeting people. “We make personal introductions of people who should meet, just like any good host does,” says Seeman. “The speaker is limited to 15 minutes of fame and no questions from the floor…those interested ask the speaker personally while he mingles throughout the evening.”

The Vancouver chapter will host First Tuesday’s inaugural North American matchmaking event on January 29th.

Another popular event in the area is IdeasONTAP, run by local company IdeaPark and held at the Yaletown Brew Pub on a monthly basis. The event boasts cheap beer, free food, and free flowing ideas.
The event asserts the philosophy of “No pressure, just having a beer a

nd a bite with the people in your community.”

The night also features an Elevator Pitch, which is described as an integral part of the event. This features presentations by five selected startup entrepreneurs where they try to sell their business concept in 60 seconds or less, and provides good practice for companies to perfect their pitch in front of a knowledgeable audience.

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