The Eleven Golden Rules of Networking Pros

March 26th, 2014

by Hutch Moragne, Account Executive

“There is something to be learned from almost everyone in the room”

Welcome to our monthly check-in with Hutch, KITE’s resident startup nerd.  Here, you’ll find out what events and opportunities are on the horizon and receive timely updates from the KITE startup marketplace.    


 

Growing up in Palo Alto as the son of a tech VC, I was no stranger to networking. Equipped with a love of learning, a yearning to meet new people and a passion for entrepreneurship, I began networking long before I was really aware of the business benefits of my social nature.

As the manager of the startup marketplace here at KITE, I’ve been able to network in a more formalized setting at a slew of startup events this spring and summer. I attended large events, like South by Southwest, and small events, like brainstorming sessions with local entrepreneurs. Regardless of the size, location, theme or industry, I quickly realized the importance of mastering a few basic skills.  Take a look at the best practices I’ve already implemented:

  1. Be goal oriented. Never attend an event without an objective. It’s easy to get distracted during all the commotion. Reminding yourself why you are there will help you leverage your time most effectively.

  2. Meet as many people as you can. Conferences are often only a few hours long, and are attended by hundreds of entrepreneurs. Make it a point to connect with as many of them as possible.

  3. Remember names and faces: It’s likely you will see people that you meet at future events. Remember their names and faces and they will make more of an effort to remember you. Remember how you met them, where you met them, and identify who they know that may be useful to your goal. Write a note on the back of their business cards or in your phone’s contact list. LinkedIn even lets you write private notes about how you met contacts on their profiles now.

  4. Don’t hesitate to introduce yourself. Remember, everyone attending is there to meet new people and learn more about the industry. They are just as excited to meet you as you are to meet them.

  5. Always carry business cards: It’s important to look and act professional. When trying to meet people and remember names, exchanging business cards is always faster than swapping contact information.  

    1. Hutch Tip: The Three-Pocket System: You’ll meet hundreds of people, some more relevant than others.  I like to place higher priority cards in one pocket, and less important cards in another. That way, at the end of the day, it’s easier to vet who you should follow up with first. Make sure to keep your personal cards in a third pocket so you don’t have to fumble through them every time you go to pass one out.
  1. Keep your conversations on point: You will meet a lot of interesting people at these events, but remember that it’s a numbers game, so try to avoid spending too much time with any single person. They are also trying to meet people, so stick to what’s important, swap information and follow up later. You can always reconnect to pick up where you left off.

  2. First impressions count: It’s important to know your audience when attending these events, and to dress accordingly. If you show up to a formal business development or marketing event in a Star Wars shirt and cargo shorts, you are going to look foolish. Adversely, if you show up to a 24-hour hackathon in a new Armani suit, you’re going to feel equally foolish.

  3. Contribute positively: The people in the startup community are usually very generous with their time and knowledge. You will get out what you put in. Lend a hand in any way possible, make intros, make yourself valuable and they will do the same for you.

  4. Don’t over-indulge: Everyone loves to eat and drink, especially at socially-driven networking events. It’s an open bar and full buffet, so help yourself to a cocktail and some food, but know your limits and act in moderation.

  5. Listen and Learn: There is something to be learned from almost everyone in the room. Listen to what they have to say and ask follow-up questions. Listening to one conversation will prepare you for the next and improve the way others perceive you.

  6. Have fun: You will meet some of the most interesting people in the world at startup networking meetups. The stereotypical entrepreneur always has a few great stories, wacky experiences, is open-minded and loves having fun. Relax a bit and be yourself.

Whether you’re at a networking event sponsored by a large corporation, or a smaller gathering among like-minded entrepreneurs, it’s comforting to know everyone is walking into the event with an open mind, a love for learning and an eagerness to meet new people.

In fact, you can start networking right now, by connecting with me: LinkedIn, @HutchMoragne


 

Hutch Moragne is an Account Executive at KITE who manages our startup marketplace. If you’d like to claim your company’s profile on KITE, visit http://bit.ly/ClaimCo.

Tune in next month to learn what networking events Hutch will be attending this fall in the Silicon Valley and beyond. Your next opportunity awaits!