Networking Is A Contact Sport

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The Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation in Bloomington hosted the 7th Annual IU Entrepreneurial Connection Day on Friday, April 11. The purpose of this event is to connect students, alumni and entrepreneurs. Beyond various panels and a keynote luncheon speaker, one of highlights of this day includes an "open mike session" for students to present their story to seasoned entrepreneurs, alumni and investors in the audience. The students are then able to further engage members of the audience in a "formal networking session" that follows. The day ended with an "informal networking session" at Nick's English Hut, a Bloomington institution.

I participated on two morning panels; "Finding Capital" and "Evaluating Entrepreneurial Opportunities" which were structured for undergraduate and graduate students to ask advice and hear stories from practicing entrepreneurs. Participants were selected and invited by a team of graduate students. The sessions were fun and filled with insightful questions that reinforced the quality of our Kelley students in a setting outside of the classroom.

The luncheon keynote was delivered by Mickey Maurer, Chairman of Indianapolis Business Journal, and an entrepreneur, civic servant and philanthropist. Mr. Maurer, JD '67, whose gift of $35 million, to fund IU law school student scholarships in perpetuity, has resulted in the school being named the Indiana University Michael Maurer School of Law. If you are looking for a good read that highlights entrepreneurs in Indiana, you will enjoy his book, 10 Essential Principles of Entrepreneurship You Never Learned in School.

Matt Hunckler, self-described Founder and Chief Magician at Verge and Kelley honors graduate, provided an overview of Verge which I find to be a wonderful resource in the Midwest for entrepreneurs. Verge connects founders, developers, and investors with resources and tools to grow their startups. I encourage every Kelley student to become familiar with Verge and attend one of their events.

I found the day a delight, and while my presence was to engage and help our students connect with executives and entrepreneurs such as myself, I developed several new relationships and connections as well. At lunch, I sat next to David Gard, Assistant Vice President of Economic Development for IU, and one of my fellow panelists was Tom Hustad, Emeritus Professor at Kelley and a deeply experienced business executive. Lastly, I am having lunch with Mickey Maurer sometime within the next few weeks in Indianapolis where we both live. As I always say in lecture, "Networking is a contact sport"...