Tuesday Sep 16, 2008

GUEST POST - SNAGSTA - The best 10 London Networking Events


By Alex Moore, Snagsta co-founder

This is an extract from the original post at http://blog.snagsta.com/2008/08/29/londons-best-internet-networking-events/


So, you’ve decided to take the plunge and set up the next Google. You’re on version 12 of the business plan and you’re trying to make all the numbers add up.
You can’t get the sums to work but you torture them long enough and they eventually confess.
Now all you have to do is find partners, programmers, designers, lawyers, accountants and most importantly, investors. Then you have to tell the rest of the world about your idea; blogs and emails are a great way to communicate but there’s nothing quite like getting out there and testing your idea on real, live people.
You also need to build that all-important network of contacts who will help you make your dream a reality. Without contacts and advocates your idea will not fly, a point reinforced very well by LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman at a recent conference I attended. He said, “Your network is your net worth.”


So where do you go to make it all happen? You could do worse that try a few (or all) of these London-based gatherings.


1. DrinkTank
This one was set up fairly recently from the nice people at Huddle. Unlike other events they are fairly selective about the guest list. The last one I attended was very full, a lot of fun and good for business. No presentations or long speeches - just lots of beer and conversations.


2. MiniBar
One of the more informal gatherings on the circuit. Noisy and sometimes difficult to hear what the presenting companies are saying but still worth the trip to this wonderful part of East London. I have met some great people at this one.


3. Second Chance Tuesday
These happen infrequently but are excellent. The auditorium where it’s held (The Royal College of Physicians near Regent’s Park) is a great place to actually hear what the speakers are saying. The networking sessions both before and after the interviews in the library is also very well attended.
One of my favourite events - they should hold them more regularly.


4. Chinwag
The best name of any event by far and run by the amiable duo Sam Michel and Deirdre Molloy. This is another panel discussion event so most of the networking is at the end. The topics discussed are always well thought out but the event can be a little hit or miss depending on the quality of the panel members.


5. Mashup\*Event
This is a more formal sit-down-and-listen-to-expert type event. I have only been once but learned a lot. The one minute pitches at the end of panel session are fun to watch.


6. Open Coffee
Inspired by Saul Klein and the insightful folks at Seedcamp. Takes place every Thursday in West London. I have been 4-5 times and have met a wide variety of people each time. It’s a good place for those who are thinking about taking a leap and becoming an entrepreneur as it’s a rich environment to test out your idea on other people.


7. Imperial entrepreneurs
I haven’t been to this one yet but my business partner Phil has been to a couple of these and has seen some excellent speakers present. Student run so takes a long summer break each year.


8. Facebook Developer Garage London
I went to one of these a few months ago. Not an event I would rush back to but useful if you’re a developer looking to network with potential clients looking to build applications.


9. Social Media Café
I haven’t been to this yet but I plan to get there soon - we’ve heard good things about it.


10. Bootlaw
AKA ‘the Danvers and Barry show’ in reverence to Danvers Baillieu and Barry Vitou of the law firm Winston & Strawn. Have yet to attend but it looks like it could be a very useful event for online startups to pick up some free legal advice and meet lots of other fellow entrepreneurs.

And of course now we are part of the Startup Essential programme we will be going to Stewarts monthly meetings, to network with the rest of the members and dicuss partnerships, drink beer, eat pizza and make the most of Sun's vast network and resources to help us.


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