Social Networking The Mississippi River Way

Posted on July 19, 2012. Filed under: Public Relations, Small Business in Minnesota, Sporting life, Twin Cities region | Tags: , , , |

Patrick Boulay, publisher of the New Business Minnesota monthly magazine, poses in front of a company promotional banner at a recent meet-up honoring heroes of the business start-up community in Minnesota.

Patrick Boulay, founder and publisher of New Business Minnesota magazine.

Not even Mark Twain would find much to complain about vis-à-vis the notoriously inhospitable Siberian climate of the Twin Cities this summer. In fact, incurable river romantic that he was, Twain would likely have cozied up to the bar at the Pool & Yacht Club in Lilydale on the Mississippi — as I did the other night. Twain might then cast a gaze filled with fond admiration at the rolling waters of nearby Old Man River — as did I — and then, just before tossing back his double shot of Scotch whiskey, raise a glass to the inventor of air conditioning.

Because it was blazing hot late into the afternoon of Tuesday, July 17. The type of heat that drives away all thoughts of January wind chills — and causes one to marvel at people’s ability to assume the trappings of civilization — in this case, the choice to don a sport coat and serious leather dress shoes — before sallying forth into the inferno.

A Little Well-Deserved Startup Love

But no matter. For this was the New Business Minnesota meet-up, a chance for startup owners to “Network with Leading Business Professionals You Should Know,” held at the Pool & Yacht Club that very same day. Five to seven p.m., the invitation read, and at 5:30 or so there I was, primped and pumped for a brief interlude of business networking with these friends of Patrick Boulay.

A good turnout it was too — some 40 to 50 friendly faces, by my casual count, milling about with purposeful abandon in the spacious setting of a river-facing meeting room. Mr. Boulay arranged this meet-up to share the wealth of social networking capital he derives as publisher of the New Business Minnesota journal. It is, as he notes, a guide to getting going on running a new entrepreneurial enterprise in Minnesota, chock-full of useful information for the newbie biz wiz. He distributes 8,000 copies per monthly run, getting it into the hands of owners of startups who crave information tailored to their particular situations.

A Battler For Startups

A true champion of the startup class, Boulay notes in his Publisher’s column this month — titled “Startup Odds Are Pretty Good” — that the one-year success rate for startup businesses is 85%. Even five years on, after all the proverbial, epic struggles that entrepreneurial companies must endure, 50% of all startups are still in business. That is pretty good — and a good testament to the viability of all us small business operators as value-creators. (And don’t call us “small time operators” either. Small in scale we may be, but most of us in the small biz world think big. We have to – there’s no corporate cushion to fall back on, so we need to be ahead of the game at every step. Of course, we use what we know to help make our products and services more appealing and competitive, and if that ends up helping corporate customers and clients, so much the better. It’s not an either/or world, recent commentary by John H. Bunzel —Small Business Is Getting A Tad Too Much Love — in the Minneapolis StarTribune notwithstanding.)

That said, let’s not forget that key to every entrepreneur’s success is his/her ability to make professional contacts. Mr. Boulay’s meeting was an excellent venue for doing so — this is social networking at its best, e.g. in person, face-to-face, one tiny swap of business cards at a time. I would encourage other small business people to engage with Patrick’s organization at www.newstartupmeetup.com.

An Urban River Haven

One last word on the setting: a revelation to me to discover for the first time the discreet charms of the Pool & Yacht Club. Scenically situated in — Lilydale, where else? — just across the 35E bridge from St. Paul, it’s a terrific spot from which to watch the river flow — or chill down during those Siberian-style Januaries that descend upon the Twin Cities. Boaters can pull into the docks and ramble on up to the clubhouse for food and refreshments too. Such river hospitality is all too limited in the Twin Cities, so take advantage. (I’ll just add the Pool & Yacht Club info, Pool & Yacht Club, to be sociable.)

You never know. The ghost of Mark Twain might wander on by while you’re gazing fondly at the rolling waters of the mighty Mississippi.

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