As a startup, you will go to a lot of startup events ranging from Tea Sessions, Hackathons, Meetups, and Startup Pitches. A founder is the biggest evangelist of her startup and these events provide a good opportunity to spread the word around and network with the people of your community. If you are not already going to some of them, you are missing out on something.From my experience, here are a few do’s and don'ts at these events:
1. Reach on (or before) time
This is simply for the reason that early on in the event is when people are most fresh and open to making connections. By the end, most of them are tired of saying the same thing over and over again to different people and usually not in a very talkative mood. Also, if you happen to be the one who is making a presentation, it is always a good idea to get a feel of the place.
2. Keep your cards handy
Not everyone you meet would remember your name and/or your startup. Carry a business card. It is easy and cheap to get them printed. And instead of shoving it in the hands of everyone you meet, politely ask if they would like your card. A little politeness always goes a long way.
3. Don’t be hesitant
Chances are, that the person across the room is feeling as hesitant to come up and say hello to you as you are. We are not trained to go up and say hello to perfectly random strangers. So, don't be shy, bring a smile on your face, say hello and extend a hand to the person you want to talk to. If nothing else, you would have eased some poor person's nerves.
4. Don't stalk
You want to talk to THAT guy. He is known to make deals on the spot. You think that if only you get a chance to pitch to him, you are set for your life. I am not saying that's not possible. But, just take it easy. Don't keep following someone around the room. Give them their space and time. Remember, some of them have to do it day and night. Just wait for them to finish up their conversation before introducing yourselves.
5. Respect other people’s time / listen
We entrepreneurs are passionate people. And it is very easy for us to go on ranting about our startup to someone else. But remember that the purpose of these events is not to convince someone to sign a deal – instead, it is an introduction to what hopefully becomes a long and fruitful relationship. Also, give the other person some time to speak, you never know what they might say that could help you. Be a better listener than the talker.
6. Don't get drunk (yes!)
Let us be honest here, free alcohol is one of the best things about these events. It’s easy to cross the limit of happy high and insanity. The idea of alcohol is to loosen you up and make it easier for you to talk to strangers. But please don't overdo it. This sounds too obvious but happens way too often.
7. Follow Up
This is perhaps the most important part of your communication. Don't miss out on following up with all those you have networked at an event. Be quick and your recall will be higher.
Do share some of the tips that have worked for you...
About the author:
Mayank Jain is the Co-Founder of Musicfellas (www.musicfellas.com) – Discover indie music, Support the artists you love and Buy their music legally. Artists get 70% of what you pay. When not at Musicfellas office, Mayank can be found playing Snooker or hanging out at coffee shops.