So you just came up with a great new business idea and you’re hungry for success? Are you interested in new technologies, sales, and marketing? At Wolves Summit you’ll be able to meet people who can contribute to the success of your business, invest in it, or become a part of it. Thanks to innovative networking tools such as the matchmaking tool, predefined meeting spots, round tables, or quick talks (1.5 min), you’ll be able to fully exploit the potential of your presence at the conference. Who’s ready for a hunt?
In recent years, networking (do not mistake for collecting business cards) has emerged as one of the key concepts in the context of career development. It is also gaining a lot of attention in connection with business. In 2016, BNI (the world’s largest business networking referral organization), which groups together over 211,000 members in 7,800-plus chapters worldwide, alone generated $11.2 billion USD in revenue for their member businesses.
More and more entrepreneurs see networking as an effective tool for business development—it helps them attract clients, find partners and admirers of their products or services, and, above all, develop long-lasting professional relations. Here at Prowly, networking is our daily bread, and this is why we’ve become a proud partner of this year’s edition of Wolves Summit which—in line with its motto “Create, Network & Grow”—for several years has been providing a perfect opportunity for making such meetings happen. “As many as 291 startups participated in the fourth edition of our conference series. A total of 914 startup companies were present at all four editions. At the fifth edition, we are expecting over 350 startups from more than 50 countries around the world, lectures will be given by 80 speakers, and 4,000 1:1 meetings will be held,” announces Joanna Rybka, PR Manager at Wolves Summit. During the event, participants will have the opportunity to try out the matchmaking tool, and join in various evening events. The organizers have also prepared special spots for independent networking meetings where participating startups can connect and initiate business relations on their own.
Let’s take a closer look at these options, especially since the next edition of Wolves Summit is coming right up!
- Matchmaking tool – a tool developed for active and tailored networking. It allows you to set your own preferences and create a schedule of meetings. It will also allow you to set up meetings with startups, investors, and corporate management before the conference even begins.
- Speed Dates – individual 1:1 startup-investor & B2B meetings. These meetings are scheduled using the matchmaking tool and take place during the two days of the conference. These meetings will help you expand your contact database, initiate business talks, as well as attract potential investors and business partners.
- Dedicated meeting spots – networking at dedicated spots that have been prepared for you and the people you want to establish contact with. They will make communication and locating other participants at the event much easier for you.
- Evening networking events – VIP Party and Networking Party – these will help you get to know other participants in a more relaxed and informal atmosphere.
How will these startup companies benefit from setting up such meetings? Let’s now give the floor to the participants:
And what about the organizers’ perspective? “Above all, we want all participants to leave the conference with contacts they currently need. This is why we put so much effort into making sure they have as much information about each other as possible and that they can schedule their meetings before coming here.”
Networking – practice makes the master
Statistics shows that more than 70% of conference participants do not feel comfortable and don’t have enough courage to break the ice during such events. They mainly focus on the substantive layer of a conference, thus failing to take the opportunity of meeting other people in the industry which is created by the organizers of such events.
As Grzegorz Turniak from BNI Polska once said, without the support (icebreaker) of the organizers, the mingling activity, which facilitates the exchange of knowledge and experiences among the participants, is often very low. This is due to many reasons. For instance, they don’t know:
- why they should meet new people,
- how to do it,
- what they shouldn’t do, and
- how to maintain such relationships.
How to prepare yourself to make the most of it?
We asked the organizers of Wolves Summit and added some of our own thoughts on this subject:
The 5 Fundamental Networking Rules Everyone Should Follow:
#1 find out who’s coming
“Organizers of events, especially those centered around technology and business, often make the list of participating brands and renowned speakers available to the public. It’s worth to go through such a list to decide who is of particular interest for us,” says Barbara Piasek, CEO and Co-founder of Wolves Summit, and adds, “During the upcoming edition of Wolves Summit, we’re planning to hold over 4,000 1:1 meetings to create opportunities for the participants to meet each other and discuss their ideas and plans. We help them schedule these meetings before the event even starts. This is to make sure that both sides will benefit from such activities.”
If, after going through that list, you’re sure about who do you want to impress the most—first do some research on the internet and start with analyzing specific LinkedIn profiles. This way you will learn some basic information, discover similarities, and find potential topics that will help you start a conversation.
#2 set a goal
“Plan ahead which brands would you like to get to know and who you simply have to meet. Your goal should be quantifiable—get a specific number of business cards—you just can’t call it a day until you collect them all. Additionally, write down some names you will consider as priorities—you simply can’t give up on getting these contacts. Whenever I’m investing my time into something, I always draw up a plan like this. My teammates do the same,” explains the creator of Wolves Summit.
The key is to not engage one person in chit chat for too long. Many people make that mistake and finish their day with a poor result. “After the first day at one conference in which I and my teammates participated, we sat down to check how many business cards each of us collected. There were four of us, we were split among different sections and types of clients. As it turned out, I had way more cards than anyone else. I told them about my technique and today some people on my team are even better at this than I am,” adds Piasek.
TIP: Don’t go from one extreme to the other. Spreading a wide net is not the most effective method in networking. You definitely shouldn’t set for yourself the goal of having a chat with everyone—this usually leads to endlessly circulating among the participants and having many hasty conversations.
#3 tell them about yourself
Think about how can you introduce yourself in a few sentences, so that your partner in conversation will take you as someone worth talking to and collaborating with. Devote enough time to prepare the so-called elevator pitch, which is a 20-30-second summary of information about who you are, what you do, what is your greatest success, who are you looking for at the event. It will allow you to get to know one another and quickly move to having a business talk. However, remember not to flood your partner with information about yourself only. Ask questions, show interest in what this person has to say. This way you will convince your conversation partner that you are the person who understands best his company or project. By showing that you’re engaged, you’ll build relationships that may develop into a long-term business cooperation.
It also happens that during these sessions you will meet someone who completely dominates the conversation. It was this type of people that Piotr Bucki talked about some time ago in an interview for Business Insider Polska: “It often happens in business that people with strong personalities set such ‘beta traps’; they tell you where to sit or when to wait. They have an entire stock of tools for controlling the situation. If someone doesn’t want to allow being dragged into this dominant person’s court of followers, they must show this person that they are partners.” What, according to Piotr, should be done to break such a dominant attitude? “Make a different offer. Example: You go to a meeting that you’ve been looking forward to for a very long time, to your client. You were supposed to have a 30-minute presentation, but as it suddenly turns out, your client doesn’t have much time and tells you that you’ve got only 10 minutes. Many people in this situation would thank him for finding time, etc. Doing so, they yield to the dominant narrative. And it’s enough to say, ‘fine, I have 8 minutes,’ and now we’re dictating our own terms. Obviously, many readers will think, ‘Easier said than done.’ Unfortunately, there is no other method besides consciously thinking about it and practicing in various social situations. We should remember that such habits are not separate for our work or family home, etc.” we read in the interview.
What if the conversation is heavy going and right next to you there’s a better opportunity, e.g. to get close to the CEO of a large company who just entered the room? Lead the conversation to a faster end, but without showing your partner that he’s not very important to you. Cutting the conversation short so you can go and talk to someone “more important” is one of the biggest faux pas in networking. Avoid it like the plague as it never goes unnoticed.
#4 use the opportunities
Events such as Wolves Summit offer many networking opportunities, including 1:1 meetings that are scheduled in advance, spots for independent networking meetings, or evening networking events. All this is done to make communication easier for the participants and to encourage them to exchange business cards and contact details with as many people as possible. “I don’t recommend staying in one spot. The Wolves Summit conference is a huge space where startups, investors and corporate managers from all over the world mingle. Therefore, it is good to take this opportunity to talk to new people all over the place. Even if you’re standing in the line to get coffee or waiting for another lecture to start,” advises Piasek.
#5 keep in touch after the meeting
“Don’t be afraid to ask strangers for their contact information. At such events, everyone shows up for a specific purpose and with the view to expanding their network of business relations,” explains Piasek. Networking events are organized so that people participating in them have the opportunity to get to know others in a short time. But all these business cards you collect will be of little value if you’re not going to use them. Within not more than 7 days after the conference, send an email to remind the person you’ve met of your name, thank them for the meeting, and connect with everyone on LinkedIn. Even if you’re not planning any cooperation project at this moment, the contacts you’ve gathered may come in handy in the future.
However, try to make a reference to the topic that you discussed in each such email. It would be helpful to make short notes after each meeting; sometimes it’s enough to write down a few words on the back of the business card. The thing is that after the event and several meetings you might not remember who discussed what.
If during a meeting you tell someone that you will contact them and for instance send them more information when the conference is over, it would be best to do so within 72 hours after the event. Show that you care.
Is there such a thing as talent for communication?
Are you not convinced that you’re going to handle it? Relax. Joanna Rybka from Wolves Summit argues that talent is an inherent ability, and each person is molded by the environment in which he or she functions every day. “The ability to communicate depends on a number of factors, and that includes listening and speaking skills. People participating in our conference receive support in the form of a tool for scheduling appointments, but the course of each meeting depends entirely on them. One can learn communication only through practice, and Wolves Summit creates such an opportunity. Of course, there are people who are able to communicate more easily because of their extrovert nature, but even the shyest introverts can learn this art if they really want to. They just need to go through the difficult stage of stepping out of their comfort zone,” adds Rybka.
Come and see for yourself. We’ll be there too as we’ve become a proud partner of this event.
For more information on the Wolves Summit conference and participation opportunities visit the official website of the event.