Web Summit Lisbon

    Photo by: Rick Morais

    Networking can be a maze of handshakes, business cards, and small talk. But have you ever wondered how to turn strangers into collaborators?  

    When done right, networking can be a game-changer for your career and personal development.  

    So, let's explore the power of networking around Web Summit or any other large-scale event and provide you with some actionable tips for success. 

    Be a Conversational Chameleon 

    Imagine yourself at opening night reception of Web Summit, surrounded by a sea of faces you've never seen before. You want to strike up a conversation, but where do you begin?  

    The key here is to be a conversational chameleon.  

    Adapt to the person you're talking to by actively listening and showing genuine interest in their story. Ask open-ended questions that go beyond the usual 'What do you do?' For instance, you might inquire, 'What inspired you to attend Web Summit this year?' to get a glimpse of their motivations. Or perhaps you could ask, 'What aspect of your work or project excites you the most right now?' to tap into their passions. Additionally, 'What's the most interesting trend or development you've observed in your field lately?' can open up a discussion about the latest industry insights.  

    When you connect on a deeper level through these questions, your conversations become memorable, and you leave a lasting impression. 

    Networking Sprint vs. Quality Connections 

    At events like Web Summit, it's common to see attendees rushing from one conversation to the next, collecting business cards like they're in a race. But what happens when you prioritize quantity over quality in networking? 

    Meet Sarah, a Web Summit enthusiast on a mission to gather as many business cards as possible. She engages in superficial exchanges with numerous individuals, accumulating a pile of cards and LinkedIn connections. On the surface, it looks like successful networking. 

    However, in reality, Sarah's business cards and connections languish in a drawer, forgotten. Why? Her rush through conversations failed to create lasting impressions or meaningful connections. Our brains remember emotionally significant experiences, and rushed interactions simply don't make the cut. 

    Master the Follow-up Game 

    Networking doesn't conclude when the event wraps up; it's in the follow-up where the true magic unfolds. A few days after meeting someone at an event like Web Summit, you have the opportunity to transform a casual acquaintance into a valuable connection. 

    Imagine you had a conversation with Jane, a cybersecurity expert, at a Web Summit panel discussion about data privacy. She shared insights on the challenges she faces in the industry and her passion for improving online security. To craft a personalized follow-up message, you might write: 

    "Hi Jane, 

    I enjoyed our data privacy talk at the Web Summit. Here's an article [insert link] related to our conversation. Let's discuss this further and explore collaborations. Share your thoughts or suggest a time. 

    [Your Name]" 

    The Power of Giving in Networking 

    Networking isn't solely about what you can gain; it's equally about what you can offer. Seek opportunities to assist others without expecting immediate rewards. Share your expertise, valuable resources, or make introductions that could benefit someone else. The more you contribute to others' success, the more likely they are to reciprocate in the future. 

    Imagine you're at a networking event, and you meet Emma, a startup founder looking to improve her marketing strategy. You happen to have a wealth of experience in digital marketing. Instead of solely discussing your own projects, you offer to provide some marketing insights and share a few resources that have helped you in the past. Emma is genuinely grateful for your assistance, and this creates a memorable moment. 

    The beauty of giving in networking is twofold. Firstly, it brings a sense of gratification, knowing that you've made a positive impact on someone's journey. Secondly, it fosters a spirit of generosity that tends to be reciprocated over time. When you are oriented towards giving, you naturally become more approachable and memorable to others. 

    Join the Right Conversations 

    Web Summit is a massive event with numerous sessions, workshops, and very captivating side events, such as the Chief in Tech Executive Networking Dinner. Instead of randomly choosing which ones to attend, strategically pick those that align with your interests. Through pre-event research, clear goal setting, and efficient use of event tools, you can target specific sessions and attendees aligned with your networking goals. Active participation during sessions not only enriches your knowledge but also draws like-minded individuals closer to you. 

    Learn the Art of Exiting Gracefully 

    Not every conversation will be a perfect match, and that's okay. Sometimes, you may need to politely exit a conversation that isn't going anywhere. A simple, "It was great talking to you, but I need to catch up with a few other people," can be a gracious way to move on without leaving a negative impression. Alternatively, you can introduce them to someone else in the vicinity, saying, "I'd like you to meet [Name], who shares a similar interest in [topic]. I think you two would have a great conversation." Another approach is to promise to reconnect by expressing your genuine interest in continuing the conversation but mentioning your current time constraints, saying, "I've really enjoyed our chat, and I'd love to continue it. Let's exchange contact information, and I'll reach out soon to follow up." These strategies not only allow you to exit gracefully but also leave a positive impression and open the door for potential future interactions. 

    In conclusion, mastering the art of networking at Web Summit involves a strategic approach to session selection and meaningful interactions. Remember, it's about quality, not quantity. Exit gracefully when necessary, leaving a positive impression. Beyond the main conference, explore side events like the "Chief in Tech Executive Networking Dinner" for specialized interactions. Keep an eye out for informal meetups, too, which often appear on platforms like Eventbrite or Facebook as the Summit nears. These events can offer unexpected insights and connections that can truly elevate your Web Summit experience.