I am always surprised when I see founders of other startups casually attend a startup conference. For me it is like attending an expo / trade show or other business event without preparing. I find it a complete loss of opportunity. One needs to start networking long before arriving.
Demo Brasil is a 2 day startup conference. Big fish from the startup ecosystem including angel investors, accelerators, VCs, entrepreneurs and policy makers will be there. This a fantastic opportunity to make great new contacts and expand ones network. There will be 100’s if not 1000’s of people there and arriving without a clear list of targets one is lost in the networking bonanza.
My approach to make the most out of a gathering of great people in my industry
Firstly I review the agenda and look up each speaker on LinkedIn. If I already know them I send a short message to say I will be there and I look forward to seeing them. If I have something specific I want to discuss I propose a meeting place / time. Of course a specific meeting is tough to agree so I try and find out when they will be at the event and where they may be to try and ‘bump into them’. For new contacts I initiate a LinkedIn contact request with a personalized message. I also update my CRM. I currently use Nimble.
I reach out to people I would be interested in meeting at the event and I suspect they may attend.
I attend the event with 100 business cards. 80 in my bag and 20 ready in my back pocket ready to be smoothly removed and handed to the prospect. I use Moo to make awesome business cards. This is not an item where I try and save pennies. Somewhat controversially, we designed cards that have our profile pictures on them. Quite prominently actually. As I tell each person I hand one to: “Love it or hate, you won’t forget me or who this card belongs to”.
Tonight we get on a bus at midnight and will be arriving in Rio at 630am….night buses mean we don’t loose a valuable day of work and of course don’t need to spend money on a hostel :). The glamorous life of an entrepreneur.