I would like to tell you about a little journey I am on as of late- in the Seattle area…and by the way this is for posterity so grab your coffee and pull up a chair! Back in September I was having the typical project closure meeting and was on Skype with one of my contract techs after all other attendees had left and let me just say, at the time I had no idea how much that conversation would alter my thinking about connections.
Go ahead and bake on the word “connections” for a minute while I offer full disclosure – I am a connector…always have been and while I do have my close circle of friends I can never know too many people. Of course in my circles there are many who are far more connected socially and professionally and a bunch that have consciously chosen to forego digital connections altogether…it’s their choice either way I’m cool.
Anyways, towards the end of our chat the tech I will call John told me that he was moonlighting for Uber. I did not know anything about Uber at the time and so he proceeded to explain how Uber worked and about the peeps he had met during his down times in between projects…needless to say I was intrigued. That is when I started putting together this idea to utilize the Uber service as a way to leverage a captive audience on my turf.
And I wasn’t the ONLY one intrigued with this idea! A couple of professional networking companies were also interested in the “connection-fiber” potential during those treks from point A to point B. For the last month I have been working the Uber/Lyft platform to that end and gathering qualitative data which I will share more on in later posts.
Sure, I am on LinkedIn, go to mixers, and belong to local professional associations and have met plenty of people along the way but what I hadn’t noticed until recently is that I am doing ALL of the same things that everyone else is doing. Interestingly, our digital persona and face to face social outings is the time and place we put on our “persona we want everyone to believe about us”. With that said, I don’t think anyone can underscore the value of catching a person with their guard down, in the beginning, middle, or end of their work day spilling their guts on what they are working on…or not. That is the point isn’t it?
Having been a client-facing professional most of my life and a contracting/consultant and project manager the last decade…I like many of you, have gone to a customer site, have been interviewed, and have negotiated deals where from a psychological standpoint the ground was uneven. Heck I have interviewed many folks myself at Starbucks and Tully’s through the years which served as a neutral ground at best, but networking via Uber on my turf is showing great potential. I have a hundred or so business cards from the last several weeks, have handed out plenty, and have been asked to coffee to discuss a startup idea with a company in Pioneer Square.
I have met business owners, private equity folks, lots and lots of dev’s (this IS Seattle after all), statesmen and women, healthcare, and IT professionals, restauranteers to name a few. I have even schlepped a few college students (hey, you never know who the next Mark Zuckerburg will be). Driving has also served to keep me apprised of the latest buzz and there has been plenty in the last several weeks in Seattle.
Later posts to follow!
Oh, some have asked about the money driving for Uber – compared to my typical PM or consulting rate it’s not much…pays for my gas and slows the cash reserves depletion rate a little but the networking potential far outweighs this lest I be sitting at Starbuck’s with my laptop sending “connect” requests on LinkedIn! 😉
“Not that there’s anything wrong with that!” – Jerry Seinfeld