The year was 2018. Justin Bieber was still popular, governments were still surprising, and hipsters were still into obscure bands you'd never heard of. HackerNest was knee-deep in a big organizational revamp and one our projects was to make the Tech Socials even more effective at connecting everyone in tech.
We came up with (and heavily battle-tested) "SuperConnect" -- a quick, deceptively simple, effective way to get you talking with the right people. It catalogs the room so recruiters and job seekers and cofounders and people with common interests can all find each other and do stuff together. The frenetic matching that follows is awesome to behold. Maybe they trade notes on frameworks, form D&D groups, or build Skynet. That's what we assume, anyway, since we don't really track outcomes that well.
Here's the idea. Participants stand in a circle and each get 10 seconds to tell the room who they are, who they want to meet, and one thing they care about. After that, they go talk to each other. Easy. It's important to point out that volunteers don't miss out -- we shut down our stations to encourage them to participate. Not so shameless plug: volunteering is fun and makes it even easier to talk to everyone.
We went through so, so many iterations to find just the right thing that would:
- be quick, scalable, and replicable in every city we run in
- get participants to share just enough info to spark conversation
- help folks help each other - the first step is knowing someone could use support!
- encourage people to speak (in short bursts) in front of a crowd and build confidence
- be easy to indulge, with no strings, commitments, or work required before or after event
The resulting SuperConnect, in all its two-dimensional elegance, became our weapon of choice. The format is low-stress. You don't need to think too hard and the very important 10-second limit is strict. It's not enough time for someone to:
- feel nervous
- bore the crowd
- obnoxiously pitch
- do anything irritating like try to be funny or break the format by showboating or whatever
We do need to cut folks off at 10 seconds. If we let some people drag on, it's unfair. Everyone gets bored and annoyed and tunes out. 10 seconds makes people focus and listen -- or they'll miss hearing from that one person they really needed to meet.
Don't be fooled by its simplicity; SuperConnect works. We've had only glowing feedback from folks who've participated. And there's no pressure: if you change your mind, just back out of the circle. No harm, no foul.
So! Come to a Tech Social. 10 seconds could change your world. You'll have fun. Promise.