Yesterday, we both attended the first core conversation at SXSW with Thom Singer who shared some tips on networking at the event. Tyler and I are both somewhat extroverted people, so it seemed as though the session was somewhat more targeted to the introvert. But there were still some very great tips that sufaced to the top:
- Show everyone respect. Even if they aren’t the CEO of the company you want to work with, doesn’t mean they don’t have the CEO’s ear, or perhaps will be their own CEO very soon.
- Take baby steps. At conferences like SXSW, there are 12,000 people. Focus on small steps by meeting just a few everyday. If you go away with 5 solid new connections, then you have had a very successful time.
- Put yourself second. When you meet someone new, focus on asking them questions first. Don’t verbally vomit about yourself because frankly, no one will care. After you hear about them, they will likely ask about you, and they will do it with a positive frame of mind.
- Take notes. After exchanging business cards, quickly write down descriptors of them so that you can remember the experience. This will make following up much easier.
- Follow up. Meeting someone and exchanging business cards doesn’t mean that they are now in your network. All it means is that they are now someone you have met. Follow-up with them and add value to their lives. Your network is only as strong as the value you add to it.
And finally, have business cards. If you don’t, then it shows the other person that you are a taker… and an unprepared one at that. Treat every new encounter as an opportunity for new business.