Some reflections on the Startup Conference May 2014 in Redwood City. The informal conversations were far better than any of the presentations I sat through. I offer some suggestions for informal networking at events.
Reflections on Startup Conference 2014 in Redwood City
“Not everyone who is worth knowing is famous.
Not everyone who is famous is worth knowing.
You meet your community of practice
–Those who can help you see the adjacent possible–
In line waiting for the famous.”
Sean Murphy (inspired by Elia Freedman’s “Accidental Meetings“)
The conversations I had with individual entrepreneurs were the best part people of the Startup Conference 2014. 2,000 entrepreneurs, VCs, and met in Redwood City on, May 14, 2014. I talked to a number of folks and had several conversations that were far better than any of the presentations I sat through.
I came away with a couple of thoughts on networking.
- Focus first on understanding the other person’s situation and what they are trying to accomplish. This enables you to share useful and directly relevant information and to ask for insight and assistance that they are more likely to be able to offer.
- Trust develops over time: smiling helps, listening closely can require effort in a crowd but by giving someone your clear attention you encourage them to have a serious conversation.
- Make a note to jog your memory of the conversation. I often use either a their business card or a 3×5 card, use your smartphone or tablet if that’s easier.
- You can only make connections if you first listen carefully and understand their story.
- If you meet someone at an event don’t skip talking to them if you have the opportunity. Serendipity is always at work but is only possible if you make the effort to have a conversation. It’s hard to predict where things will lead.
- If you intend to talk to a speaker rehearse what you want to say and get to the point in 15-20 seconds. Exchange cards if you want to follow up. Especially if there is a line get to the point and limit yourself to 30-60 seconds. If a minute leaves you with the strong impression that they would like to talk more go back to the end of the line and let others have a chance to talk briefly before engaging in an extended conversation.
“All great work is preparing yourself for the accident to happen.”