Chronicles Of A Local ATL Startup [Chapter 3:My Company, Log 3]
By Shakar Atlan
Topic: Networking/events/competitions part 2 (Networking 101)
As a graduate student night classes were chaotic with a heavy strain on the body. However, my daytime was open if I wasn’t working, this granted me ample opportunity to attend events. I invested in professional business cards, then went out to network to spread the word of Colluide. Researching popular incubators, meetups, or universities for regular events is a good approach to learn of networking events in your area.
My endeavors were to gain experiences in socialization and pitching. Regardless of your personality type, founders need to be adept sales people, looking to entice everyone about their idea. A lot of my experiences involved awkwardly standing by myself while everyone else seemly was in conversation among themselves. I couldn’t figure out why that kept happening until I realized that there was quite a generation gap between me and the majority of the crowd. Admittedly, age difference does reduce common ground, but it should not stop the conversation. Once in a while people will notice a different person in the crowd and make conversation with them instead of the average Joe. After, going to a couple more events I built a knack of talking to random people. It would now be me that makes the first move to talk with different people no matter their title.
Simple interview and conversation tactics can ensure that people network like a pro. A simple mirage trick that hides insecurities and can intimidate other at the same time is looking people directly in the eyes. This act is really difficult for most people, but going the extra mile and to just zoom into the spot in between the person’s eyebrows will show attentiveness, confidence and security. Talking too fast had always been my problem, at times I was unsure of the right thing to say. So I would cram as much as I could in one sentence. Take the time to formulate your words properly and keep your content related to the conversation. It’s annoying to talk to somebody that you cannot hear or understand.
“Prepare for some embarrassing & awkward moments, rest assured it happens to everyone. Laugh it off and keep moving”
Another trick that I learned from reading an article was a guaranteed way to succeed at small talk. If you consider yourself to be an introverted person, then seek out another introverted person just as uncomfortable as you are. Ask how they are doing or about the event. They would be so flattered for the engagement that the awkward tension would melt away and a full conversation would bloom.
Treat everyone with respect and greet people with a smile at all times. At networking events you must maintain a professional appearance and composure. Your reputation can easily spread, plus the entrepreneurial group is surprisingly small, so there is a good chance they know each other. Keep your goal in mind to pitch your idea to as many people as possible, encourage followers to your idea and to get business cards.
In my past I have accumulated dozens of business cards through recruiting, networking, competitions, and meetup events. My purpose is to stay in touch with them and contact when necessary.