Gainesville Tech Week wrapped up this morning. Silicon Valley started out because of the tremendous research on computer technology done at Stanford University. Gainesville, due to the similar explosion of research taking place at UF, seems to be in a similar situation…with only a little bit more support needed to truly skyrocket the city into the stratosphere. Even without a direct flight to NYC, many great businesses continue to open and thrive each day.

However, one particular speaker stood out to me, John Hill, Technological Evangelist. John, the (tech) evangelist, not only preached about the power of leveraging your network on LinkedIn but he also built actually built out the system at LinkedIn that makes it possible. He explained that everyone has four major groups of connections that would go to bat for you.

1. and 2. were Friends/family—while they would do the most for you may not always have the connections nor business know-how, or in the case of John the Evangelist, his family didn’t even know what he did.
3. University affiliates—he asked for a show of hands of how many people would help out a high schooler from your high school who was starting a business, or looking for a job and seeking advice—nearly everyone raised their hands. John condemned to hell those who wouldn’t help out the hypothetical student…
4. Work affiliates-while he didn’t spend that much time on this one, he said you would approach it similarly to University affiliates

John advocated searching through connections—sorting by people in 1st or 2nd connections—people who are either in your circle, or just one connection away. Then sorting by University, University of Florida, and then sorting by the business that you would either like to work at or would like to sell into. He recommended both present and past employees and then either finding an introduction through LinkedIn, if they’re 2nd connections and explaining—“Hey we’re UF alum and have a product to sell into your company, can you give us some insight on company values and motivations” and then listening to best understand how to position your products and services to best meet their needs.

A how-to-guide for searching on your phone:

If you’d like to hear more about how to learn more about connecting and listening to your customers with empathy—please go to John’s website and if you’d like to reach out to John himself–he provided his email address, and despite his condemning audience members to hell, he is wonderfully approachable and spent a considerable amount of time chatting with audience members after his presentation.

Good luck building out Gator Nation!