Jeff Perkins is CEO of ParkMobile. He previously held senior executive positions at QASymphony, PGi, AutoTrader, and Saatchi & Saatchi.
Perkins lives in Sandy Springs with his wife, two daughters, and two rescue dogs. When he’s not working, you might find him riding his Peloton bike or attending a Bruce Springsteen concert.
To mark the release of his new book, “How Not to Suck at Marketing,” Perkins shared his Top 5 Ways to Build Your Network:
I moved to Atlanta from New York City in 2007. So, I’m one of the many Northeastern transplants who now call this city my home.
When you move to a new city, one of the challenges is that you have to build your professional network. I’ve learned that your career is only as strong as your network. Your network can help you find jobs, hire top talent, and generally get better at everything you do.
Networking has been pretty tough over the past year and a half, as most events have gone virtual. Let’s face it; there’s only so much networking you can do over Zoom. But now that events are starting to come back, it’s time to get back to in-person networking, and here are the places, events, and organizations to help you do it. Some of these may seem a bit tech-centric, but they are really great places for anyone to network, regardless of your industry.
1. The Atlanta Tech Village, located in Buckhead, has become the center of the universe for all things startup in Atlanta. Founded in 2012 by David Cummings, following the sale of his company Pardot, this co-working space has birthed several Atlanta unicorns like SalesLoft and Calendly. The village features a variety of great events, including the weekly “Startup Chowdown” lunch, pitch practice sessions, and much more. Or you can just hang out in the Kula Coffee shop and see who you bump into. It’s a great place to meet interesting people.
2. Atlanta Business Chronicle Events: The Chronicle is the paper of record for the Atlanta business community. But beyond journalism, they also put on monthly events. While many of the events went virtual over the last year, they are transitioning back to in-person. That means we can look forward to the Best Place to Work and Pacesetters events in the future. I recently attended the Most Admired CEO event at the Coca-Cola Roxy Theater at the Battery, and it was great. If you want to hobnob with the “who’s who” in Atlanta business, the Chronicle events are the place to be.
3. The Technology Association of Georgia, or as we call it, “TAG,” puts on over 150 events every year. The two big ones are “The Summit,” the biggest annual gathering of tech business leaders, and FinTech South, which focuses on Atlanta’s large payments ecosystem. If you work in business or tech in Atlanta, you need to get involved with TAG. You can see the calendar of upcoming events here.
4. Michael Tavani, the founder of ScoutMob, started Switchyards as a “neighborhood work club.” It’s a super hip, co-working space that offers an escape from the home office and the chance to connect with the local community. Switchyards now has three locations – Downtown, Cabbagetown, and Westside. Switchyards also created the “Made in Atlanta Series” that brings in local celebrities like Sid Mashburn, Killer Mike, Hugh Acheson, and Kasim Reed for lively discussions. Membership is only $50/month and includes free coffee and tea!
5. Venture Atlanta has become the big annual event where investors from all over the world come to learn about the latest early-stage Atlanta startups. And there’s a good reason for that. In the past, Venture Atlanta has featured companies like Pindrop, Cloud Sherpas, Kabbage, SalesLoft, Terminus, Florence Healthcare, Flock Safety, and of course, my company, ParkMobile! All of these companies went on to get acquired or have significant fundraising events. Venture Atlanta has grown a lot over the last 14 years. It is now a multi-day event that kicks off with Techstars demo day, and features the Atlanta Startup Battle. If you want to network with entrepreneurs and investors, this is the event you have to attend.
So that’s my top 5. But no matter what you choose to do, make professional networking a priority. I recommend trying to do some kind of networking activity at least once a week. Attend an event or have lunch/coffee with a colleague. In the long run, having a strong network will pay off big time.