Reflecting on the First Year of Tech on Tap 

By – Keegan Carda, Marketing and Communications Manager, MnTech

In the spring of 2022, MnTech returned to in-person events after more than two years of virtual programming. As we began gathering people once again, we quickly realized a need among the Twin Cities technology community: connection. People wanted a way to grow professionally that was deeper than a connection on LinkedIn. 

A central pillar of MnTech’s efforts is community, so it felt natural to create a space for people to build ties. In September, we hosted our first Tech on Tap, a casual networking event that rotates between the many breweries in the Twin Cities area. The goal of this event was to grow and strengthen the connections between technologists in the community and foster a stronger tech ecosystem.  

Although it is new, Tech on Tap has proven to be a success. We have had hundreds of attendees at our events and organizations willing to lend their support through sponsorship. Over the past several months of planning and hosting Tech on Tap, I have learned several lessons about building community, hosting events, and the value of networking.

In a post-COVID world, people’s motivations to attend an event have changed 

Although some companies are making headlines for mandating all employees return to the office, 58% employees are still working from home for part or all of their week.1 Previously, when most workers were in the office full time, an out of office event was a chance to leave the office early, meet coworkers, and do something for your professional development; a win-win-win.  

Today, many of the draws that pulled people to work events are gone. Leaving the home office now seems like a much bigger task. Why drive across town when you have already felt the benefit of giving up your commute?  

Overcoming the inertia of leaving the home office is difficult, and it takes the right combination of factors to draw a crowd.  

Despite this inertia, people are eager to get together 

We found that the casual atmosphere of Tech on Tap has worked well for us, as has the variety of new locations. A free beer never hurt either.  

We honed in on networking as an activity to pursue because we noticed a desire for people to gather and connect. Finding a job, a new business partner, or perhaps a new service, is much easier when you can gather in person.  

Over the last year, the employee-dominated job market has reinforced the need for networking opportunities as well. Now that employees have more leverage, networking may also feel easier and less intimidating as individuals see options in front of them rather than obstacles. 

The turnout at Tech on Tap has proven this to be true, and it’s clear people still see value in gathering in person. 

Creating spaces where people can build an informal community works

As mentioned above, MnTech is focused on strengthening the tech community in Minnesota. Throughout the several Tech on Tap events, I have seen numerous familiar faces that are attending these events regularly.  

Creating a space for individuals to find a sense of community is extremely valuable. Minnesota’s companies succeed when employees have access to a strong community of technologists who are facing similar challenges, can provide opportunities for others, and share knowledge with each other. 

Tech on Tap has proven itself to be a valuable resource for those looking to network and grow within their community.   

It is a strong tool for talent development 

MnTech has been vocal about the need for more technologists in our region, and about the benefits of sourcing talent from non-traditional pathways such as bootcamps or academies. As Tech on Tap has grown, we have seen attendees who span the entire spectrum of career stages, from executives to recent graduates.  

Included in our attendees has been cohorts from Prime Digital Academy and Summit Academy, two Twin Cities-based bootcamps that train students in in-demand skills like software development. Tech on Tap has proven to be a valuable resource for these students to connect with hiring managers, executives, and HR leaders at no cost. 

Creating a new event from scratch is not without its challenges. The first year of Tech on Tap has taught us many things, and we are excited about the year to come for this event series. To find more information about Tech on Tap, visit MnTech’s events calendar or follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter 

  1. “Americans are embracing flexible work—and they want more of it” – McKinsey