If you’ve been wondering how to find and nurture authentic business connections in Denver, this podcast episode is for you. The other day I was working a side-hustle at The Outdoor Retailer Show. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this event, it’s basically where people in the outdoor space show their new products, buy sourcing materials for clothing/equipment etc. and talk all things specific to outdoor concerns such as climate change and the impact on the industry. This was the third time I’ve worked the show and I’d met a ton of people running Colorado local business, creating cool products, and doing cool things. Basically, the kind of people I want to share, support, and collaborate with via my Square State project. One of the people that I worked with was a really cool guy who shared that he and his girlfriend were looking to move back East and we began discussing why. I’d asked about his experience living in Denver. One of the biggest issues was his inability to break into his field. I found that surprising but this is something that I’ve heard before. From other people as recently as the week before. But, one of those ladies was legit crazy so I think that was her issue. So in this week’s episode I thought it would be helpful to share how to make authentic personal and professional connections in Denver. Sorry guys, the ladies have a better ecosystem for this.
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Real talk, I’m not a fan of the concept of “networking” as it brings to mind meeting people with a specific agenda versus just organically meeting people…because WE SHOULD BE. Humans are social animals and moving to a new town or living in a town changing as quickly as Denver has presents some challenges when it comes to meeting people. In this episode I’m going to give you some insight on how to meet people authentically in Denver, connect with opportunities, and hopefully jobs.
How to Network in Denver
Each city has a certain vibe when it comes to networking and making connections that move you forward personally and professionally. Denver is no different. What is unique to Denver, in my view, is the focus on fitness based activities to foster connections.
It is not unusual to talk about the type of training you’re doing for a race, the type of activity that you enjoy doing, or what ski pass you picked up to hit the slopes this year.
Tip #1 Join a Fitness Focused Group
Do you love skiing, hiking, biking, rock climbing, etc? Join a group doing what you love.
Currently, I’m involved in the following groups
- Outdoor Afros-Outdoor activities for POC/Allies
- Trails and Ales-The OG of Denver based hiking groups on Meetup
- A ski and snowboarding group on Meetup-I always miss this one due to timing
- And I take a Groov3 hip hop fitness class, my current fitness obsession.
These groups are a low-key and easy way to meet people with similar interests.
Tip #2 Targeted Short-Term Volunteer Roles or Side-Hustles
I love side-hustling at the Outdoor Retailer show because I am able to meet 100’s of Colorado local attendees doing cool things AND they are focused on the outdoors. This is 100% in alignment with the three specific areas of focus for Square State which are:
- To share and support Colorado based products, programs, and businesses.
- To create authentic and meaningful connections between newly arrived and lifelong citizens.
- To normalize seeing POC faces in outdoor places.
So, Outdoor Retailer was a perfect fit for what I’m working on and who I want to connect with. Spend some time looking into opportunities to support programs and projects in your field and meet people in a low-key way.
Tip #3 Join Business Focused Facebook Groups
Sorry guys, but the ladies in Denver have a clear edge when it comes to having online communities that will support and nurture their work. Here are some groups that I recommend joining and I’ll mention if they are women only. I will continue to add to the list in the show notes as I discover more so make sure to check.
- Denver Founders Meetup
- Colorado Startups
- Freelancers Spark Union
- Start Up Grind Denver
- Denver Bloggers Club
- Women of Denver
- Denver Boss Babes
- Women Who Start Up
Tip #4 Start Your OWN Community
Sometimes you just have to empower yourself in order to get stuff done. If you’re struggling to find community, then create the community that you’re looking for.
- Meet in free places
- Use Facebook Events/Meetup.com/Eventbrite to share your event
- Market on social media and word of mouth
- Collaborate with local businesses in order to hold your event.
- The Commons on Champa
Be proactive about finding the community that you seek.
Tip #5 Create Your Own DIGITAL Community
At the time that I’m recording this episode it’s February 2020. There is no reason why you can’t create a digital community for your specific area of interest.
You could grow that community and then host an in-person event at a restaurant that sponsors the food for your event.
In my view it’s actually pretty easy to position yourself as an authority in Denver and grow business connections. I find that there are fewer gatekeepers to navigate through compared to other cities. My final pieces of advice:
- Be proactive
- A closed mouth doesn’t get fed-let people know that you need help connecting with people in your space. People can’t help you if they don’t know that you need help.
- Connect in ways that are most comfortable for you, don’t rely on networking events. Especially if meeting new people makes you uncomfortable.