Networking at Massachusetts Innovation Nights

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Photo courtesy of: Janet Egan, Writer in the Thick of It (http://eganwriter.blogspot.com)

In Boston, most PR people go to PRSA, IABC or Publicity Club of New England events.  Marketing folks go to the Ad Club or MITX. Investor Relations practitioners go to NIRI meetings. That makes sense, but there are networking opportunities in unexpected places that can be fun, interesting and useful.

In 2009, I heard of an event via social media that sounded interesting. It was being held in Waltham, MA at the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation. The founder, PR pro Bobbie Carlton had created an event to introduce 10 companies to an interested audience who were also heavy users of social media. Exhibitors had table displays of their companies or ideas. Attendees chatted with the exhibitors and a few were selected to make short presentations.

Exhibitors included IBM/Lotus and Mass High Tech, the local tech newspaper. Very technical companies such as Lexalytics, a text analysis software company, and low tech outfits such as Practical Solar, which is just that – a company with practical uses of solar energy. Some of the exhibitors aren’t around any more, but some have used that launch to take off.

Noteflight is one of those companies who used the power of the web to create an exciting new product. They are reinventing the way that people create, share and use written music. Their product doesn’t merely improve on other music notation software: it lets written music take advantage of the full power of the web. Students, teachers, professional and amateur musicians use Noteflight’s application to edit, display and play back music notation in a standard web browser, integrated in an online library of musical scores that anyone can publish, link to, or embed. Very cool!

Well, it’s more than four years later and I just went to the 57th monthly Massachusetts Innovation Night. They have been held all over the Boston area and have now introduced almost 600 companies. The attendees have tweeted, liked, blogged, LinkedIn, and posted to create an echo chamber of publicity. There are now Mass Inno food and gaming events. There are sponsors and advertisers. It’s been an unqualified success and a fun and interesting networking opportunity. I try to go whenever I am in town. I have met some candidates for our searches and perhaps some of these start-ups will grow and become clients.

The next Mass Inno is on January 8th at Progress Software in Bedford, MA.