IRL is back.

From Sam

In 2019, the Burlington startup scene was saturated with in-person meetups. It felt like every night of the week I was at some brewery or coworking space, networking my little heart out. It was exhausting. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and we went into lockdown. Meetups stopped abruptly, and the old adage “you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone” has never felt more real. I missed people.

Fast forward a couple of years and we remained socially distant from each other. The sporadic networking event felt…well, wrong. Should I wear a mask? If not, is it worth the risk? Now here we are in mid-2024, and folks, WE. ARE. BACK. Finally, there has been an incredible resurgence of IRL meetups. And you know what? It doesn’t feel “saturated”, it doesn’t feel forced or overwhelming, it feels ~ right ~. In fact, I firmly believe that these informal get-togethers form the connective tissue that brings our entrepreneurial ecosystem together. “Third Spaces” are a category for connection, collaboration, meaning, and belonging. We are in an upswell where loneliness, both individually and professionally, are at all time highs, creating a strong undercurrent of desire and necessity to reconvene. Coming together IRL not only allows us to take advantage of our small size, it helps create a sense of place and belonging for all the smart, kind folks who call Vermont home.

My team was reminded of this last Thursday when we divided and conquered the Burlington Young Professionals Meetup, Burlington Hardware Meetup and Vermont Marketing Meetup (which all took place on May 30th). Afterwards, we each raved about the people we met and the renewed energy we felt walking away.

I am grateful to the leaders in our community who are working hard to make this possible: Marty Markenson, Walker Cotton, Sam Holland, Geoff Strawbridge, Mieko Ozeki, Dan Harvey, Jeff Couture, and many more. Your work makes a difference, thank you.

Where to find me IRL:

Where I stay plugged in:

  • Vermont Technology Alliance (VTTA)
  • Center for Women & Enterprise (CWE)
  • Vermont Small Business Development Center (VtSBDC)
  • Hula
  • Vermont Professionals of Color Network (VT POC)
  • VTWomenpreneurs
  • Vermont Outdoor Business Alliance (VOBA)
  • LaunchVT
  • and more!

Let this be your reminder to make time to show up IRL, it matters.