(Net)Working Indianapolis

Every Thursday morning I attend a BNI networking group in Carmel. After the meeting I head over to the Subway next to Jason’s Deli and Office Depot. I get the $3 breakfast combo, which includes a 6-inch breakfast sandwich and a regular drink. I then sit down with my laptop and get online using the local Wi-Fi. LePeep, La Hacienda, and Jason’s Deli all have Wi-Fi so I encourage you to try any of those during lunch.

If the seat by the outlet in Subway is taken, I head down the strip to Starbucks. This particular Starbucks is loaded with outlets and many coworkers, commuters, sales persons, and solopreneurs hang out here during the day. I believe this is primarily because of a) the size of the Starbucks – it’s unusually large for a Starbucks, b) the sheer amount of outlets to plug in your laptop or mobile phone, and c) it’s central location to Indianapolis and Carmel.

After attending meetups and other networking events, I’ve started to know a lot of people around Carmel and Indianapolis. Usually, whenever I’m in a Starbucks I’ll run into someone I know and because of that, these cities have started to feel more like a community. I don’t know everybody, but my chances of running into someone I know are now greater than not running into someone I know. And although I check into Foursquare, it doesn’t ever seem to help me run into people, which is odd.

As I am an Indianapolis web designer, my meetings are sporadic and sometimes far in between. I use these ‘holes’ in the day to work out of various locations such as Starbucks, Subway, or Panera Bread. After doing it a while, you start to learn what other business professionals have chose to use as their personal office. There is a dog walker and an oil salesman at the Starbucks at 96th and Meridian and of course there is my habitual use of the Starbucks at Meridian and Carmel Drive.

The greater Indianapolis area is large in size, but it’s a small community. The people you actually want or need to talk to is relatively very small compared to the population of the whole city. For me, it’s business owners who can make a decision to buy from me direct, can be a referral partner, or can be a connector to someone I need to talk to. This is really what networking is all about because you also want to be those same characteristics to other people in your network. You want to be that power connector.

Robby Slaughter, a business process consultant in Indianapolis, has made it his goal in 2012 to help 1000 people. Because Robby is a power connector, he’s able to help a lot of people and I actually took him up on it and Robby had a one to one with me over the phone. Robby is a fellow BNI member of another chapter and he helped me figure out what would be some good referral partners for me and how to tweak my 60-second asks, some of which I’ve implemented. Thanks, Robby!

I’ve actually mentioned Robby Slaughter before as being one my local heroes. I ended up finally meeting Robby last August at Blog Indiana and then immediately saw him again when he spoke at Linking Indiana. Robby also wrote a guest blog post on my web design site entitled, Increasing Productivity In Website Maintenance, which was appropriate since he’s a productivity expert and I design websites around a CMS called WordPress. Thanks again, Robby.