By Joseph Hutt –
Whether you’re looking for recruitment opportunities or hoping to expand your own business, networking can be an important if daunting task. However, enduring a gauntlet of formal interviews simply isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and can prevent even the most talented people from putting their best foot forward. This is what inspired Matt Drouillard to organize Networking for Nerds (NFN), a networking event series that encourages interaction on a more informal level.
“I was going to a bunch of networking events…” Matt explains, “and I just didn’t like the way they were… I was thinking if we start taking away some of this more formal stuff and make it more fun, it could be easier to socialize with people.”
“A lot of folks are working the [formal] model that has worked up until now, and I just feel that the language of business is changing.”
Since their launch in Sept. 2015, which sported 8-bit projected arcade gaming, as well as a variety of board games and tasty food, NFN has received a great deal of praise for the atmosphere it has managed to provide.
“We just wanted to create more of a business social group,” Matt says, “because sometimes being an entrepreneur, or being in sales and business, or even just being a developer, you don’t often get a chance to socialize outside of your company.”
The continued success of NFN’s goal to build a community across these industries has now given Wellington West the opportunity to be one of two Ottawa boroughs that will host a series of smaller monthly events: the NFN Nerd Parties.
Matt said he’d been considering Wellington as a venue for a while.
“Wellington West has its own culture that I really like,” he explains. “I used to live in Kingston and it reminds me of that area. You can walk through the whole neighbourhood and there’s lots of interesting places to check out.”
While they may not be featuring NFN’s infamous poutine buffet or projector gaming, the Nerd Parties will still include a number of exciting activities and social networking opportunities. These range from tech demos hosted by various game developers to a slew of video and boardgames that Matt believes will encourage the kind of informal interaction that people are looking for.
“We understand that everybody has different levels of introversion and extroversion,” he explained. “If you’re not social, you can mention it to us or just saddle up to one of the games we provide. And believe me, it will figure itself out. “
“The majority of people who are first time networkers, we don’t expect them to go up and say hi to everyone in the room,” Matt added. “Just because it’s networking doesn’t mean you’re expect to really open up to people right away.”
“You can honestly not say hi to anyone in the room and you will still meet people.”
As far as Matt himself is concerned, he loves that NFN continues to grow, in part through contacts he’s met at these events, but also through his own personal enthusiasm.
“I get a kick out of it,” he said. “When I’m actually at the event, we try to delegate enough work away from me so I can take some time to just introduce people.”
“Actually, if you asked me five years ago if there was a way I could just introduce people… and play video games for a living, I’d say sign me up. I just never thought it would happen.”
The first Nerd Party is on March 14, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., at the Tooth and Nail Brewing Company. Tickets are $10 on Eventbrite.