I encountered a surprising challenge these past few months, as I have embarked on rebuilding my professional network in DC and finding a job with a digital agency. When I was here from 2006 to 2009, the tech scene was booming and there were a lot of ambitious young strategists, business people, designers and developers coming out in large crowds to weekly tech events. Many of the networking opportunities that once drew the best talent in the city have fizzled, and fewer and fewer up-and-comers want to come out to these types of events.
I have reverted to networking with people one-on-one, asking for a list of contacts they recommend I reach out to, scheduling meetings with those folks, and repeating the process. Besides being tedious, there are some challenges that I am finding with this process:
- The people I know in DC run in the same circles, so the number of new people I am referred to that I don’t already know is decreasing exponentially.
- I am not meeting people in new verticals and industries because most of my contacts are in the nonprofit and political sectors.
- The amount of time and frustration it takes to schedule some of these meetings sometimes outweighs the return.
To remedy this seemingly common challenge, I am building a web app I call Community Capitol. The name is a play on words for “community capital”, a framework developed at Iowa State University for building and measuring sustainable communities.
My goal is to build a stronger community among professionals in the Beltway, allowing people to expand their networks by easily finding and meeting with individuals that share common interests, backgrounds, and career goals. I am not building another professional social network like Linkedin. This is a utility app that will allow people to find others they may be interested in meeting and facilitating the actual scheduling of real-world interactions (coffee meeting, lunch, etc).
I’ll have more information to share in the coming weeks. Until then, if you are interested in signing up for beta access to the app, sign up at CommunityCapitol.com.