One year ago the Thanksgiving break occurred one week into my unemployment…this year it occurs one week before I start my new job. The past year has been a whirlwind of activity and for the most part I was just as busy as I would have been had I been gainfully employed. In the end I landed a job through a colleague with whom I had worked in the past. But along the way I did a ton of work towards both finding employment and staying current. From some of this I ended up with a small amount of financial income and got to collaborate with a good number of very innovative entrepreneurs but mostly this work simply helped me maintain my psychological health.
Here are a few things that really worked well for me. For better or for worse my interests lie in smaller companies or companies that have a very strong startup culture.
There are many if these in the Boston area and many more in other centers of technology and innovation around the world – the Bay area and Shenzhen both come to mind. Some are more welcoming to non-developers like me. These events are full of creative and energetic people with lots of good ideas and quite often just need some people with industry experience to bounce their ideas off.
Health and Wellness Innovation
Music Hack Day
The Meetup website is great for pulling together like-minded people for networking. There are a good number dedicated to startups and idea sharing across a number of different industries. ..and there are other similar meetings that are not strictly “meet ups”.
Boston New Technology
Boston Music Technology
Boston Quantified Self
Mass Innovation Nights
I had the chance last spring to meet Reid Hoffman and I thanked him personally for his website. It was a significant piece that helped me continue to feel like there was still a place in the professional world for me. Connect with EVERYONE you know – family, friends, etc. I also made a point of posting there regularly interesting articles or blog posts I found relevant to the areas of my professional interest.
Follow as many people and companies that are working in the areas that interest you. Cross-post the LinkedIn items from above to twitter. Re-tweet items of interest from people you follow. All of these etchings lead to people being aware of you and you learning more about what is going on.
Startup Competitions & Incubators
These vary in size and content but they are a great way to get to know the latest innovative ideas that people are trying to commercialize. Getting to know the people who run these is a great way to up the level of your interaction.
I found that occasionally going out and spending time in a cowering space was a great way to change my environment, meet people and again, feel like I was still part of the more that was going on. Many have public events or free times to visit.
CIC’s Venture Cafe