Abby Snyder writes that meetups, hackathons, and social events might be some of the best bang-for-your buck in terms of outreach and talent development.
Looking to get the word out on your start-up, or find some low cost advice from entrepreneurs who have been through the slog? Look no further than your neighbors. Abby Snyder of Altisource Labs shares what she’s learned in terms of hacking the community to help find support. Have something you want to share with the Hive community? Hive@Boston.com, or follow us on Twitter: @HiveBoston.
One of the chief attractions drawing companies to Boston is its talent. The unique Boston trifecta of top-tier education, hot start-ups and established enterprises makes for a powerful and diverse talent pool. Competition for talent is fierce, but the companies that focus too much on finding recruits only for their own projects can easily overlook an amazing benefit of belonging to the Boston tech scene – the community itself. In fact, for smaller companies that lack seemingly bottomless marketing and talent acquisition budgets, Boston’s tech community may just be their greatest marketing resource.
One of the best ways to get involved in the Boston tech community is to sponsor or host an event. It can be hard to work in networking breakfasts, hackathons and cocktail hours into an already packed schedule, but they’re a great way to get to know your neighborhood and the talent that exists within it. They’re also a great opportunity to get the word out about who you are and the challenges you’re trying to solve. Even if you don’t see a direct hire, the equity you’ll start to build is priceless, and you’ll begin to see anecdotal evidence of how that brand recognition pays off.
Altisource Labs is new to Boston and on a massive hiring spree with no end in sight, so we’ve developed a couple of strategies to help us build some brand recognition and affinity. Here are some of our tips on getting the most out of Boston’s tech community:
— Adopt a Community-First Approach – When launching an event, think beyond what is best for your company and focus on what’s best for the community. For example, at Altisource Labs we teamed up with the Friends of Fort Point Channel to create Fort Point Tech Nights. These “neighborhood gatherings” allow us to network with our target audience (prospective employees and other companies in Fort Point) and give our neighbors a chance to interact with each other. In the future, Fort Point Tech Nights will be hosted by other companies with Altisource Labs as a founding partner. We’re proud of creating an event that helps our tech community connect and share ideas.
— Embrace the Quid Pro Quo – Identify event partners you’d like to work with, whether they are companies or like-minded professionals. If there’s a company you think would be interested in your event, email or call your marketing counterpart there with a personal invitation and ask them to share the event information with their colleagues. As Boston venture capitalist Jeff Bussgang has pointed out, the Boston area has an extremely dense concentration of innovation economy workers and employers. Take advantage of them! Be ready (and willing) to share news about their upcoming events with your network, too. This sharing mindset is essential: the more you’re known for being willing to help promote the local tech community, the more people will share and promote your next event, release or infographic.
— Put on your Volunteer Hat – If launching your own event is beyond your budget, the good news is there are events continuously popping up in Boston that you can get involved in, such as the upcoming Boston Tech Jam. To get the most out of these opportunities, don’t limit your involvement to just sponsoring or exhibiting. Join a planning committee. Volunteer your services. Figure out what you can bring that no one else can and then do it! The more time, money or expertise you invest, the more you and your fellow exhibitors and attendees will get out of the event.
When building your dream company from the ground up, gaining name recognition and winning over top talent can seem do-or-die. But it’s also important to think about how you can contribute to the bigger tech community. To be successful, we must look to our neighbors. Boston’s tech companies benefit the most by working together to build the kind of inspirational, dynamic and robust tech community that attracts top-tier talent in droves and makes people perk up when they hear “new start-up out of Boston.”