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It's very rare that you'll find a room filled with Europe's leading investors, founders, media, service providers and everybody in between. The Europa's is one of those very rare occasions in the European calendar. Heck even American investors MG Siegler, Kleiner Perkin's very own Megan Quinn, and YouTube founder Jawed Karim are all making the trip from the West Coast, amongst many others.
Now, it's all well and good to sit there people watching, but in reality it's one huge opportunity to network that shouldn't be missed. So, if you're a startup the real question is how do you "work the room". Well, it's both easy, and not so easy. The one thing to remember is that today's top entrepreneurs, investors and media started out knowing no one. So here's some very simple advice for making the Europas an incredibly valuable event:
Bring Business Cards - this doesn't need to be explained!
If you know someone going, even one person, find out who they know and see if they can make any introductions for you. The attendee list is just a selection, so find someone with insider information and they can probably spill the beans on some of the hush hush attendees.
Anyway, there's a simple reason for getting a warm introduction: If you approach someone totally cold in a room, they need to spend the first 5 minutes working out are you the "real" deal. However, if someone positively introduces you to a group or individual, you skip this part. The conversation moves to the next level. It's not always possible, but where it is, you should get that introduction.
Sometimes it's better to ask people about what they do, then tell them about what you do. In other words, don't be the desperate guy in the nightclub pushing himself on any girl that will have him: "I'm awesome baby, invest in me for the night, I'll blow your mind. Promise."
Keep the conversation short. People don't like the idea that they may end up spending the whole night cornered by you. Tell them you have to go in a moment, but wanted to say a brief hello.
You're not going to raise a billion dollars in a 3 minute conversation, so treat your meeting as a starting point. It's about making a positive impression and keeping the door open for a follow up email, call or even meeting. The more substantial, meaningful interaction.
It's more important that your dream investor or influential journalist remembers you, not your product. That may sound bone-headed, but it's not, and here's why: No one's going to write a story based on your 3 minute hello, but if they remember you they will click open the next time you email them with all the details they would actually need to write a story on your product.
You should also remember that Jack Dorsey, just like most now successful entrepreneurs, didn't become an overnight favourite amongst investors, media and more. It took time. In fact, not only did it take time, there were times when people ignored them, cut conversations short, were rude, walked away, didn't want to talk to them and worse. It's going to happen, for reasons good, bad and indifferent. The point is you need to learn to deal with it. It's a numbers game, keep chatting, keep moving about, keep positive.
Oh here's an almost creepy tip: at these events a fair proportion of people probably go to the loo more than they go to the bar. Now please don't hang in the loo as that's just weird, but try and figure out what's the natural corridor towards the loo in main room, and place yourself somewhere close. Oh, and it's probably a better idea to engage people after they've relieved themselves. Or maybe there is some other thoroughfare worth basing yourself close to.
Finally, the hotel! The hotel! It's the last place people go at night, and the first place people go for coffee in the morning. All the top judges, guests, shortlisted companies and more will be staying in the official hotels. It could be the best €100 you ever spend, provided you can get a room. Ever seasoned entrepreneur worth their salt, places lots of value on the hotel lobby. So much so, that there are conferences called the Lobby based on this very phenomenon.
See you in Berlin.