Connect: A new entrepreneur’s guide to making the best of networking events

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A networking event is only as good as the attendees. We won’t rule out the roles of the canapés and cocktails, but in the final analysis, it’s about the people.

For a new entrepreneur, getting out and meeting people could be an inconvenience. What with your product not being ready for the market, the day-to-day bludgeoning of entrepreneurship and the general awkwardness around people some of us have. If these are any of your concern, let’s see how we can work around them and get the business benefits out of networking events. Here:

Go with a goal

Entrepreneurs are naturally mission-minded. So, this is a good hack. Find what goal attending the networking event can help you achieve and keep that at the back of your mind as you meet people. This will get you out of your desk and determine who you spend time with at the event.
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Be helpful

Yes, this is about your goal - solving your own problems. But who wants to get clobbered with someone else’s problem at a first meeting? If you think a relationship will be useful - now or in the future,  you need to cultivate it by being helpful. Seek first to be a good addition to people’s network and these other things will be added on to you.

Listen more, speak less

Listen, it’s how you’ll figure out how to help them, till the future when they’ll want to return the favour. Moreover, it’ll make you good company. Other humans like people who ask interesting questions and take their time to listen.

Be authentic

You can be what or whomever you want at events. But it’s great to simply be yourself. If you are scared about making a connection, admit it to yourself and make the connection all the same. If you feel like it, admit it to the person you are connecting with. Public Relation professional, Ed Zitron told a story of how he once made a mess of a meeting with a TechCrunch reporter. Immediately they met, he “managed to spill coffee all over my hand. I then picked up some napkins, only for it to happen again and this time goes over my shirt. I patted myself down and said, ‘well, that’s pretty embarrassing,’ despite screaming curse words inside and turning beet red. The reporter was incredibly gracious and laughed because I didn’t (as I’ve seen happen) get pissy or grumpy about it.” Whether people admit it or not, we’ve all had our tongues caught in our noggins before and been awfully embarrassed. Sharing openly frees you of the burden of contrived confidence. Moreover, being genuine like that makes for a good conversation starter.

It’s okay to move on from a conversation

A lot of people go to events and spend the time talking with just one person. Asking lots of questions and getting solid responses. Catching up on all the details.
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It could be a genuinely rewarding conversation, but you can’t build a relationship in a day. It’s good form to design a way to continue the conversation and connect after the event. A long conversation could also be on the other end of the spectrum: an uninteresting person unloading his problems on you. Whichever, It’s okay to excuse yourself and network with other people.  

Reach out after events

One of the biggest sources of pre-event funk is knowing all the connections made at the event would fizzle into nothingness over the next few days. People get wrapped up in the frenzy of the moment promising to “reach out” after the event. The truth is that few people do. The reality of their work creeps back into their consciousness and it’s back to business as usual. Be one of those who reaches out. Do you have more networking tips for the budding entrepreneur or startup? Please share in the comments. __ Are you a Nigerian entrepreneur with a transformative idea? Cranium One is a premium coworking hub that provides space for people to connect, collaborate and bring their ideas to reality. Learn more