6 kinds of networking meetups which are a must-attend for solopreneurs
There’s a good reason a solopreneur should take networking seriously. The answer is well-hidden in the term itself – “solo-preneur”. Working all alone becomes a little monotonous with time. Knowledge sharing works best when it is done with a group of like-minded people. Our extremely hectic lifestyles most certainly do not allow us to go to events with useless banter. This is why going to networking events where you know there are others with the same intention and interests as you works best. You get a platform to discuss your ideas, learn from others, and pitch yourself and your business.
My personal experience says that we try very hard to impress the audience at networking events, but it doesn’t usually turn out as efficiently as planned. The reason? We forget that we are there to spread the word about our business and network. What we do instead is give away too much about our business, which might not be what your audience wants. The audience, like you, wants to make the most of the event and know a little bit about every business present there. This allows them to see how they can collaborate and get back to you later for more details.
However, networking meetups can become a little boring with everyone focusing on the business. You can’t play it safe either way – it has to be meaningful yet fun too. Fortunately for us, there are many types of networking meetups/events happening around the globe. Here are six quirky types of networking events that have caught my fancy lately:
Pecha Kucha talks
‘Pecha Kucha’ is a Japanese term for chit-chat or chatter. These events are designed to have 10-15 sessions of five-minute talks from different guests. It may or may not include presentations alongside. You can find stand-up audiences taking up spots in such events. These work best if you are someone who wants reviews or criticism instantly. What I personally liked about these events is the flexibility of the platform provided to not-so-famous guests too. For example, I once made a great acquaintance with a student who was out spreading his innovative idea.
This is a global event series where presenters get opportunities to talk about their ideas and also listen to others of value. Each presenter gets five minutes to talk and 20 slides each. The presenter gets to talk about new ideas, as well as challenges he/she faces, all within the time limit provided. You can ask relevant questions later to the speaker of your choice. These events work best for guests who do not want to miss out on networking and/or idea sharing.
Open mic jams
These are usually very casual set-ups that encourage guests to walk up to the stage and talk. They encourage guests to partner up, experiment, and improvise right on the stage. This encourages the guests to leave their inhibitions and talk openly about their ideas. Open-mike storytelling is catching on fast, where people are putting up their ideas and getting instant feedback about them. It is a very organic way of attracting a venture capitalist or a collaboration for your business.
Object- or activity-focused events
These events focus on taking the bar higher for networking. They revolve around an object or an activity that connects to all guests. It could be a big wall, where guests take turns to write their messages on. This allows them to know others in the event and gradually socialize as per their requirement. I have learned that such events make it easy for conversations to flow gradually.
I even read about an event in Chicago where the networking was focused on weekly fitness sessions. I understand that choosing an activity that is low-risk and highly engaging is what works for these events.
As I was mentioning earlier, it’s very important to do both networking and branding yourself in such events. However, it doesn’t usually happen in the right amount. You either end up socializing a lot and miss talking about your business, or vice-versa. Speed networking events have it pretty organized with the right mix of both for everyone. Guests are divided into pairs and given 3-5 minutes to talk about their business before exchanging positions with the listener. This allows a lot of social interaction and business idea exchanges too. Most important, it is a great way of making an event engaging.
F**k up nights
These are one of my favourite types of networking event. As solopreneurs, we are all acquainted with our share of mess ups and failures. It is most certainly not easy to talk and discuss them with people outside your business. These events give the opportunity to vent that frustration and talk about your failures. It’s equally engaging and funny, and you get to learn from others’ mistakes. People come up on the stage and talk about their professional failures, in front of a room full of strangers. Here you can hear stories of businesses that crashed, ideas that backfired, funny incidents with vendors, and much more.
Networking events do not have to seem like a task but often do. To rectify this, all you need to do is to understand their importance and try harder to see the beauty and benefits in such networking events.
Piyuesh Modi is Director at PagePotato Digital Marketing Agency.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)