I had a catch-up meeting today with a young professional who has been heads down in his very successful SaaS company, and thus out of “the startup scene” in and around Atlanta. His question is one that I’ve heard a number of times: how do I get plugged back in? That’s one of those things that seems easy, but isn’t. Two years is a lifetime in the startup world, and so many things change on a regular basis that it’s not just a simple “Go to this meetup or that meetup”. Here are some suggestions for how to get plugged back in to the Atlanta startup community after being out (or heads down) for a while.

  • Offer something of value on a regular basis to the community. I rarely have a conversation with someone new without Pitch Practice coming up in the conversation.
  • Ask everyone you know what they see as a need in the community. Just those conversations will help plug you back in, and treating it something like customer discovery will lead you to a need you can meet.
  • Mentor or advise new startups – not just the “sexy” ones, but others, too. The sexy ones tend to burn up quicker
  • Understand what value you have to offer, and focus specifically on that. General support is easy to come by, but focusing on the very specific things that you do in your job can help others specifically.

Most of all, it’s important to understand that giving to a community – any community – should be viewed as paying it forward. Expect nothing at all in return. Do it because you want to help other people succeed. The rewards will come in time, in the form of personal branding, great relationships, finding your real calling, or perhaps creating something long lasting and valuable to the community.

It’s difficult to put all your time, energy, and focus into a startup or job and maintain involvement in the community, especially if you have a family. Focus is important, but without prioritization, you may find yourself focusing on the wrong things.

What do you think?