If you are attending the Startup Grind Global Conference, chances are that you are already overwhelmed about wanting to connect with all the amazing people you are about to cross paths with. Don’t worry, you are not alone.
We, at the Startup League, have been to 25+ startup events and trade shows over the last 3 years and we still get all jittery, and excited, before every event. Over the years we have learned a thing or two about making networking easy and effortless. So, as we gear up for the Startup Grind Global Conference, we wanted to share some super-effective networking tips with you so you can make the most of all the opportunities that this mega-event has to offer.
1. Get your act together
There’s a good chance that you’ll end up connecting with over 100 new people in the span of three short days. This is too much to process for your brain so spare it all the stress and make use of technology to systematically organize these new contacts for you.
What you can do:
- Use business card scanner apps to translate all the info onto your mobile phonebook
- Make use of conference apps for networking. Check out info about Startup Grind’s conference app here under General Info.
- Make use of apps that let you make digital business cards or even AR cards!
- Tag (and follow) new contacts when putting out event-related tweets.
- Add new contacts on LinkedIn for an instant connect.
- Jot down small notes on the back of business cards for respective follow-up tips/conversation cues.
2. Know thy audience
“8000 people will be attending the Startup Grind Global Conference, and I have only 3 days to meet the most influential of them! Aarrgh”
Is that you right now? Feeling overwhelmed, though natural, takes away the energy that you need the most to be at your best. At the same time, it’s not helpful to expect that you’d meet your ideal VCs/accelerators/business partners over those three hectic days.
What you can do:
- Prior to the conference, set down your networking objectives, and then seek the most relevant attendees. It’s a good idea to set a goal for the number of people you wish to meet, exchange business cards with, and set future meetings with. Purpose-driven networking is the secret sauce.
- Do some research. For instance, if you are specifically looking to connect with VCs who can help you expand your business to Asia, make sure that you have identified the ones that are attending the event. You can take the help of the conference app and social media platforms for this.
- Try to connect with them prior to the conference and schedule a short meeting to make sure you can interact with them.
3. Aim for a human connection, not a transaction
If you simply refer to “networking” as “building a new human relationship”, it takes away a lot of stress associated with it. In fact, this change in terminology positively impacts how you approach relationship-building at events. The idea is that you don’t have to necessarily impress them with everything you’ve got. You can simply be authentic to your natural personality. This is likely to make you feel a lot more comfortable and at ease when you strike a conversation with someone new.
What you can do:
- Be unbiased to everyone you meet for the first time. They may be a highly accomplished VC or a first-time entrepreneur, but they are a human being first. They are also looking to build a meaningful social and professional connection like you.
- Do not fake a smile or shower them with fake politeness. It does more harm than good.
- Make eye contact while talking to them. It gets the other person to pay more attention to you.
- Ask open-ended questions to add momentum to the conversation. For example, instead of saying, “Great event, isn’t it?”, ask, “How do you like this event?”
4. Know when to follow-up
This can be quite tricky. While you might be eager to touch-base with certain people right after you get back from the event, it’s a good idea to give it some time before you pop in their inbox.
What you can do:
- Wait for the start of a fresh week after the event to send an email. Mention the context and the purpose of connecting. Keep it crisp. Follow up if you don’t get a reply for more than 4–5 days.
- Take inputs from your notes or your interaction to begin a casual conversation, perhaps on social media. For example, “Sorry I lost you after the seminar on networking. Did you manage to catch the Startup Pitch later in the day?”
- It’s a good practice to maintain a sheet with contacts from each conference.
- Drop emails to cold leads once every few months to keep them warm.
Relax. Breathe. You got this. Networking can be quite the task, but with some preparation and tips, you can let go of the anxiety that comes with it. Once you ease into networking, you can enjoy the anticipation of meeting like-minded people, or interacting with your next big investor! After all, the more you connect with people, the more opportunities you can create for yourself.
See you at the Startup Grind Global Conference where we are sponsoring 5 early-stage startups to exhibit their innovative new ventures.