Looking for clients? Need a financer for your tech startup, or perhaps you’re after some top notch business partners? Or are you just getting out there and spreading the word?
Networking is a superb way to hit all these goals… IF it’s done right.
If you network badly, you’ll get some results. If you network the smart way, you’ll get ten times more. So take the time to choose the right event, and then take a few moments to follow the steps in this post before you go. And you’ll soon be flying.
- How to choose the right event
First and foremost, if you’re in the tech business world, get along to our Hipsters, Hackers & Hustlers meet-ups. It’s a real hot spot of UK tech talent and every week hundreds of potential business partners and plenty of investors meet up and talk business. Whether Hipster, Hacker or Hustler, you really shouldn’t miss it. And there are dozens more excellent opportunities out there for tech-related networking. Start searching online and keep a calendar on your wall. Here’s a good list of some of the biggest UK tech networking events. Once you have a few lined up, it’s time to prepare. Before you go:
- Do your homework
Research what’s going to happen there, and begin to plan who you’d like to talk to. So many people go to networking events blind – don’t be one of them! Contact the organisers – we’re always happy to tell you who’ll be attending, so you can decide who to meet in advance.
- Plan your outcome
Think carefully about what you would ideally like to get out of the event. This will keep you from milling about aimlessly. Are you looking for help and advice? A coder? An investor? A business partner? Be clear and write it down.
- Smile, act confident, relax and be happy
This is hugely important, and if you’re not feeling relaxed, confident and happy, the best way to get there is to act like it and the feeling will follow. And if you follow all the points below, they will massively boost your confidence.
Our HHH meet-ups are the friendliest tech networking events in town, so no need to worry about nerves when you come along!
- Give before you get
Go with an aim to help people. Introduce people to others, offer to put people in touch with other people you know, or to send them a useful article, link, course or guide to help them out with their problems. Make this whole attitude of giving your priority.
- Be genuinely interested
“To be interesting, be interested,” Dale Carnegie
Have a strong attitude that you are going to learn what people are truly passionate about. Find out what they are looking for and think how you can help them get it. When you start acting interested, you become genuinely interested. And then to them you become interesting.
A good aim in each conversation is to help make the other person shine. Don’t compete with them and don’t speak about yourself until they ask. Get them to ask by being fascinated by them, so they feel fantastic around you. They’ll also remember you afterwards!
- Prepare a crisp introduction
When they do ask, don’t ramble. Say in 10 seconds what you do, who it’s for, why it’s amazing, and who/what you’re looking for. See our post on the perfect pitch to help you prepare for this.
- Move on when the time is right
It can be easy to get stuck with one person all evening. Get good at making polite exits at the right moment. Simply explain you would like to find someone, very nice to meet you, have a great evening, perhaps we’ll talk later. It’s fine to say this, everyone understands – after all, it’s a networking event!
When you get home, don’t just forget all about it. The most important steps are still to be done!
Firstly, debrief. Ask yourself how that went, what you did well and what you could improve upon. How was the event – is it worth going back to again? Think about the people you met and the possible opportunities you have from it. And…
- Have a system for following up
Networking isn’t just about meeting people and seeing who can collect the most cards. It’s about beginning relationships that turn into business results later on. So just as you’d use careful strategy with a potential client, have some strategy with people you meet at events.
A good tip is at the event, jot down some details about them on the back of their card. Include their interests, and any personal or family details you found out – and all the business things too, of course. When you get home immediately send them an email saying how nice it was to meet them. Then set a plan in your diary to follow up later on, with calls, invitations to lunch, etc.
An even better idea is to send everyone a card or a gift (I once got a box of chocolate brownies in the post and I never forgot the guy – hint!;) ). Perhaps a little gift related to their interests. It’s a not-too-expensive way to stand out from everyone else, and it triggers the reciprocation response, where when you invite them to lunch a week later, they are ten times more likely to say yes.
- Do it a lot!
This is perhaps the most important point of all. Your first networking events will always be rough around the edges. Don’t worry; like anything, the more you do it the better you’ll get. And you’ll also start to see the same faces again, which is great for building an impact over time.
And there you have it, my friends! Come along to a Hipsters, Hackers & Hustlers event to try out these steps and get the ball rolling. Looking forward to seeing you there!