For those of you who are not familiar with Techweek, they hold the leading tech conference, which comprises of five days of action packed fun: An expo, networking, happy hours, hackathon, food festivals, start up competitions and more.
When I stepped into the Merchandise Mart for Techweek my mouth was literally watering. I was salivating at the amount of opportunity there was to grow my business, learn and meet new people. I’m a true believer that your network is really your net worth. I met investors, CEOs, partners, c-level executives and had an opportunity to make new connections and friends. I’ve listed seven hacks I used to get enormous return on investment.
Hack #1 – Personal Branding
I wore a bow tie to every event of TW, not solely because it was TW, but because it’s a part of my personal branding. I do this for many reasons: I’m a bit of a fashion junky, I want to look good and firmly believe that first impressions are everything. I also brand myself across all social media with a bow tie like my Twitter and Linkedin accounts. The bow tie definitely stands out and is memorable. Chris Bordeaux, COO of TW brands himself with his colorful kick-ass looking pants. I’m a little jealous that his mom is his personal shopper. Hah. If you spotted my bow tie at TW and we did not have a chance to connect – leave a comment and I’ll reach out to you.
Hack #2 – Share Your Story
Nothing works quite like telling a personal story. People rarely remember what you do or what you sell. We are all sales people promoting our company, our start ups and are looking to grow, but personal stories makes us more relatable. Techweek allows for great opportunities to network with savvy entrepreneurs, investors, and companies. Don’t pitch them without building rapport. I find it easier to make the sale or get what I want by feeling out each individual. My story has led to an enormous opportunity for my company. We all have a story to share. Work on telling your story. It only takes one person to believe in you and it can open many doors.
Hack #3 – Mind Set / Business Cards
Naturally when we attend events or meetings we take our business cards. I didn’t have business cards to take with me because we did an entire rebrand recently and I was out of old cards. It also didn’t help that I wanted to be fancy and produce suede business cards, which takes a couple of extra days to produce. Don’t make excuses! Dont run around like a chicken with its head chopped off and order cheap cards from Kinkos. Here are a couple hacks I use when I run out of cards:
- I take a picture of my business card contact info and text it to my prospects if they are persistent about having my contact.
- I do my job and take their business card or connect on Linkedin right in front of them. I also take a screen shot of the Linkedin request so that it time stamps and tracks the location of our first contact so I can remember who I was speaking with (not needed if they have a badass story).
Whether its business cards or about how your product or service you’re working on that isn’t perfect to go to market. Get it out there!! Facebook and Google were not built overnight. Improve what your working on overtime, but don’t let your mindset hinder your potential.
Hack #4 – Give, Give, Give, Ask
I’m guilty! Sometimes I get in sales mode and ask, ask, ask rather than give, give give. What I mean by this is that every time you connect with someone, you should give them as much value as you can without having any exceptions of getting anything in return. Personally, I find joy in helping others. The law of reciprocity states that if I give you something or help you, naturally you will want to help me or give me something to return the favor. However, do not have the mind set of getting anything in return. A couple ways you can give:
- When you find opportunities, make introductions to individuals whom can find synergy with one another.
- Send content and articles related to that person’s interest.
- Offer to sit down and help them with their project/company/start up.
Hack #5 – VIP Status
I’ve attended Techweek the past three years, but this was my first attendance as a VIP. I have to begin by saying that its worth the upgrade! (I was not asked to plug this either). I was fortunate to be one of the collateral sponsors, so TW hooked me up. Thank you guys! VIP passes gave me access to everything! My favorite part was having access to the VIP lounge where I was able to make great connections with c level executives. I made friendships that will last a lifetime. Mini Hack: If you are not a VIP or can’t justify the investment, look for everyone with a VIP name badge/lanyard and network until you drop.
Hack #6 – Be Bold
When I say to “be bold,” what I mean is to go get what you want. With the high caliber of entrepreneurs in attendance, I was disappointed that no one took advantage of such a great event to do some killer gorilla marketing. It’s easier to apologize, than to ask for permission. If you haven’t checked out my post “My first trip to Silicon Valley – I was offered a buy out” – I posted pictures of some clever gorilla marketing that helped me leverage new customers and contacts to potential investors.
If you do not have a product/company yet and are looking to make connections or find a partner – don’t be shy! If you need to, get a sign that has your message, “SEEKING DEVELOPER – TALK TO ME + Your Logo/Website!” This will attract attention from potential customers, investors and possibly a potential developer.
I’m hacking right now….Did you see what I did there? I want to end with saying that whether or not you attended TW, each day is full of opportunities. You must create your own opportunities and be willing to accept failure. There’s an abundance of opportunity everywhere. Go make it happen! I’ll leave you with one of my favorites quotes from Eminem:
“Look, if you had, one shot, or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted. In one moment
Would you capture it, or just let it slip?”
Comment below and let me know your #1 hack or your biggest takeaway from Techweek? If you are looking to connect with me, comment below and I’ll reach out.