Early on in my experience as an entrepreneur I found I ran into 2 types of entrepreneurs: those that are more of a CEO type (the visionaries) and the COO types (ones that like to manage the inner-workings).
I'd consider myself a visionary type. One thing I'm finding is that I tend to attend networking events of like-minded people--the visionaries. So all we end up doing is ending up talking about what each other are working on (which can be a good thing).
What types of events should I be looking for with the COO types?
Edit: I didn't mean CEO and COO literally; I just needed a way to identify the types besides saying "entrepreneurs that are more vision oriented" or "entrepreneurs that are more business oriented" over and over.
The first mistake here is equating vision with CEO skill. It's not true. The two are separate paths. Most visionaries lack most of the skills required to be a CEO, primarily leadership. Of the six basic business skills, leadership is the most important for a CEO, but it is a skill that's disconnected from whether a person has vision or not. Yes, a CEO is responsible for communicating and leading the vision of the company, but the idea does not have to start with them. Because someone is the owner or founder does not make them CEO material. One of my pet peeves is a business card that says Owner/CEO that I get from someone who hasn't mastered a single one of the six basic business skills.
So, let's step away from c-level titles and address what you're actually asking.
Networking events are crap. People have no training on how to network, so finding anyone who is actually useful at such events is typically a terrible waste of time. There's a lot of glad handing and talking about "me" but typically there's no one who can be identified as helpful simply because the structure of networking events is all wrong. There's a lot of congratulating, but it's basically no better than peeping in windows. Until you change the way you approach networking events, you won't find anyone to help you with your business. It's not a matter of which event, it's a matter of how you approach people. Networking should never be about you. It has to be about the other people you encounter. You won't find out what interests them and why they think the way they do unless you stop talking about yourself and start asking them questions about the way they function, why they do things, how they get stuff done. It doesn't matter what project they're working on, you need to know how they're motivated and how they solve problems.
I'm guessing that the two business skills you're looking to supplement are efficiency and organization, typically the two things that come under operations functions. Operations folks don't have the same incentive to attend events as visionaries. They're typically busy working, not thinking, and events don't help them advance.
Where are the best systems builders? They're busy building systems, not attending business networking events. Where will you find them? More likely blowing off steam doing something fun, not schmoozing entrepreneurs.
I understand that's not particularly helpful in finding them, but you will know where not to look, idea spaces. You want systems people, go where people tinker or organize team activities. Try a maker space, a paint ball center, a HAM radio convention, something along those lines.
We actually have another forum going right now about how too many people go on diatribes answering questions that have too little or no specific information, and the often useless advice given as a result. I have no idea what your company is, or what it does, so I am limited with commenting on titles or what you need. But what I can say regardless..first figure out what skills your company needs, because entrepreneurship is all about putting together puzzles, not titles, nor trying to convince people how smart you are.
Don't deal in absolutes of titles. Plenty of CEO's who are also visionaries. Stereotypes in entrepreneurship often are a waste of time and thought. As long as he is not insecure and that is the reasoning behind his CEO title, it matters not. The Chief Exec Officer can absolutely be an inventor with little business acumen, as long as he knows he has a team that can support his vision. It does not make him less of a CEO. Now it can cause problems with outside investors sure...but Im not going to write paragraphs about that because I have no idea what your company is doing or where it as it...and I don't need to feel like Im giving advice in an open forum. But one of my annoyances is with wanna be business consultants who feel they need to dictate to young or inexperienced entrepreneurs about why they should not be a CEO. Bottom line focus on what your company needs first and then figure out what the roles and titles will be. So much of this depends on the industry too.
I met one of my business partners at a networking event once. Granted he was the speaker, and granted I was the only one who approached him and told him I had a project I needed him to work with me on rather than ask for a photo or an autograph. Cattle call events with name tags probably are not the best though. Linked in has become a business facebook with inflated bios. Go to companies..with presence that you know are generating revenue..big small...but with success.
Feel free to reach out to me and I will see if I can point you in any specific direction. Skills...if you know what your company needs..start looking to other companies that fill those needs...that will lead you to people doing that skill, and often they know others with the same skills and focus.
Paul's answer is perfect. It is also possible to have a visionary/operating executive. Often, the COO or the CFO role is perceived as minor and engaged for the wrong reasons.
In order for you to make an intelligent decisions, you first have to be brutally honest with yourself why you want this person. Is it the tasks are overwhelming you and you need help or is it that the tasks are foreign to you and you need experience? In one you need a partner in the other you need a chief of staff type.
If you are only looking for a COO to fill out the team because you think its required, and you are unwilling to actually give them authority and responsibility, it will be a short relationship. Start with listing all the tasks you face, refine them by the tasks you have skills for and need assistance, and then an honest appraisal of yourself, both professionally and personally, to embrace if you can cede control in areas to a COO. What you may find is that you do not need a COO, but rather others with skills you lack, but not at that level. From experience, being a COO with zero actual authority will end badly.
Once you do this, the answer of who to hire will change. It will also present an obvious place to find the person you need.
The visionary / integrator relationship is well defined in Gino Wickman's books, and people who subscribe to his theories (I am one) use the Entrepreneurial Operating System to run their businesses. There are occasional forums/meet ups nationwide, and also a LinkedIn Group called Rocket Fuel Book Owners Club where visionaries and integrators can connect. Good luck!