I get asked all the time if my full time job is TechCafe. I always blush at being asked about my secret desire that a sponsor like MSFT or GOOG would come along and pick up my financial requirements so I could focus on building great events here in the Seattle area for the startup and tech community - the truth is, that will never happen (I have a full time job). I don't know anyone that makes a living solely from running events of any kind (at least a living that would support the habits and lifestyle that my family is used to). SFBeta, Seattle 2.0, Hops and Chops, etc - none of these events are supporting a family of four.
So... how can anyone make a buck networking? I mean beyond the free food or the paid hours if you are a recruiter or service provider or the value in finding a job or finding the rockstar employee or partner you've been searching for and could only find at a TechCafe event? I am talking about networking in general and specifically ways to profit as a good networker without any previous planning, sponsorship selling, etc. I am talking about the new referral bonuses that two TechCafe alumns have recently announced. SEOMoz is offering US$12,000 to the highest quality networker out there and EnergySavvy is offering US$10,000 for the same thing!! That's right - one task that you are doing anyway - networking - can lead to a little side cash of $32,000. We are talking what a Seattle Public School teacher earns in an entire year just for being a good networker - so it's not chump change.
The details are pretty simple, think back through all of the networking events you have attended in the recent past. If you haven't been to one recently, try to get into Seattle 2.0's TNT event tonight. As you think through the events and the people you met - even briefly - think about whether they are a software engineer that would meet what these firms are looking for - if they don't think about whether they might know a software engineer that does meet the requirements.
From there, it is pretty simple - make the recommendation (good or bad recommendation doesn't really matter - sorry SEOMoz & EnergySavvy) - they are offering $32,000 in cash to throw some new names in front of them and they will gladly pay if the person works out. The risk - $0, the reward - $32,000, so networking offers a return of 32000% that is better than nearly any startup, penny stock, or real estate transaction will ever offer you. Granted the scale is limited, but the risk is zero - so putting a few names won't hurt.
TechCafe is not getting paid to pump the Tech Hiring Bubble - but if you happen to get any portion of the $32,000 you definitely owe us some beers...
Oh - don't forget to sign up for the next TechCafe Lunch @Hark on 3/4!!