Chris Beaman didn’t know what to expect when he walked into a young professionals event in Boston a few years ago. A polished Aston Martin was parked in the middle of the museum. Curators were walking around talking about the work of a local graffiti artist being featured while hip hop music was piped in from speakers overhead.
A hostess met him at the door. She was holding an iPad and pulled up all his information before leading him through the room. She grabbed his favorite cocktail from the bar en route to introduce him to his new acquaintance, an Indian woman with a shared interest in entrepreneurship. They were matched based on the information they submitted to the hostess in advance of the party, essentially eliminating any chance of awkward small talk.
If James Bond threw networking events, this is what it would look like.
Beaman, 32, now lives in Huntsville and is working to re-create that personal networking system he first encountered in Boston. He’s a transplant to the area, first coming to Huntsville to work for gaming giant Curse before starting his own business, so he knows how hard it can be to get plugged into a group.
It was in the downtown offices of Curse that Beaman decided something needed to change. What started as a personal mission to revitalize the Huntsville social scene has now turned into an obsession with Beaman spending upwards of 100 hours a week on community development.
“Huntsville is a super smart community with no social infrastructure,” Beaman said.
He linked up with two other Huntsville natives, Geoffrey Middleton and Corrie Spearing, to form NOVA Huntsville, a group dedicated to linking young professionals (ages 21 to 35) with groups of people who have shared interests.
The NOVA Huntsville website serves as a hub for people to come and find out about social groups with the end goal of providing something for every hobby and interest. For example, if you’re interested in boating, NOVA Huntsville will help you link up with the Browns Creek Sailing Association so you can start on sailing lessons.
And, as with most things in the Huntsville area, the tech groups are heavily represented: aeronautics, coding and the like.
Tickets to the event are $10, and only the first 1,000 people will be admitted. Purchase tickets online here.
In addition to 50 different community groups showcased at the event, six pilots will be giving away free private flights. They will also have lawn games, drinks and food trucks.