When the right people meet at the right time, great things can happen, says Borys, introducing five rules of networking for geeks. Contains Angelina Jolie’s right leg.
1. Choose the events wisely
Pick the right type of event for your startup. Borys contrasts SXSW and MIPTV, and the opportunities offered for B2B and B2C startups. At a huge event, you have to have a huge or very differentiated profile; at a smaller, more focussed event, you can target the right people and have clear goals you pursue. For Filmaster’s B2B offering for cable providers, IPTV and cinemas, MIPTV was a very fertile ground for networking.
2. Set your goals
Clear goals for why you go to an event is good for focus and great for not wasting time. Unless you’re just going for the party.
Borys’s example comes from Filmaster’s experience at SXSW. The startup had a booth and featured there Angie’s Right Leg, modelled after Angelina Jolie’s pose on the red carpet. With Angie’s Right Leg, the booth visitors had a photo-op of themselves doing the same leg thing - and they did. The leg itself tweeted Filmaster’s antics.
But you have to make sure you get what you pay for. Booths are expensive in terms of money and especially in terms of time spent. Unless you know what you are doing, getting a positive return on a booth investment at a large event is very hard for a startup.
3. Do your research
Conferences and events are a great opportunity to meet people you would otherwise never run into. The best way to ensure a positive ROI is to set up meetings at the event. Use the networking tools available, both the official ones for an event and the bigger networks. Also be ready to set up ad hoc meetings as people’s schedules change.
4. Know your pitches
A more boring bit, says Borys, but you absolutely need to know what you are saying about your startup, and whether your message is different to different recipients. And you don’t have to make it boring. Challenge preconceptions and assumptions in your pitch and make it memorable. Remember that events can introduce an overload of information and new contacts for most people, so help them to remember you by being special.
5. Follow up!
Following up is easy to forget but makes all the difference. Straight after the event, add the interesting people on Twitter and LinkedIn. Send them an email thanking them for the meeting and suggesting a follow up over Skype or in person, with an exact agenda of what you want and what you can offer.
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