How to get the most out of your (first) First Wednesday Connect?

2018 may be the year in which you will meet 100 new interesting people who will have a profound impact on what you do. Going to networking events and meeting people physically, face to face (not on social media) can lead to an important change in your career, and provide valuable resources that will help contribute to your goals.

The beauty of the highly compact and connected innovation and entrepreneurship community in Canberra is that you can make things happen very quickly and efficiently.

About the event:

On the first Wednesday of every month between 5.00pm – 6.30pm, First Wednesday Connect brings about 200 innovators, entrepreneurs, startups, mentors, investors, researchers, students and creatives in a highly interactive format

Entering a room full of new people can be overwhelming and can leave you wondering ‘where to start’. To help you get the most out of First Wednesday Connect, we sought advice from the team and came up with 10 important tips to get you started.

Top tips for first timers!

  1. Bring a friend or colleague.

Depending on your personality, your first networking experience can be challenging. There will be lots of people talking to each other and you may literally not know anyone in the room. To get yourself familiar with the style of the event, why not take a friend or colleague and plan to go together?

  1. Talk to someone who has already attended First Wednesday Connect.

If you were told about the event by someone who normally participates, ask them about the event. How did they find it? What did they get out of it? What networking tips do they have?

  1. Bring business cards.

If there is one thing that will make this easier – it’s business cards. Some people consider them a tool of the past but they are a fast and relatively unobtrusive way to exchange contact details.

It’s also a fantastic trick for remembering names.Britt Nichols, Events Coordinator. 

  1. Approach people.

Everyone is there for the same reason – to meet new people. Nobody is having a confidential conversation and everyone is happy to meet someone new. Find someone standing alone or join a small group and just introduce yourself . Are they talking about something interesting? Are you interested to learn more about what they do?  Can you add value to them?

“A very simple conversation starter that almost always works is ‘what are you working on?’ – you might be surprised at the very wide range of answers you get.” Craig Davis, General Manager Growth Programs

  1. Connect.

Your first mission at these events is to listen and learn about others. Process the information and figure out whether you can connect with this person afterwards. Connecting is part of providing value and building your networks. You pay it forward, you are not there just to get something for yourself, you can actively contribute to building a community of people who help each other achieve more.

“Everyone is there for the same purpose to meet new people that will in some way add value to the jobs, businesses or their world. Many people share the nerves, don’t worry no one can see your heart beating a bit faster, no one minds if you stumble over a word or two and certainly no one minds of you have pink cheeks – All these things happen to me still after 20 years of networking.  Give it a go, come and find me I’m always happy to chat!Liz Kobold, Business Ninja.

  1. Pitch.

If you want to achieve something, the best way is to ask. When you are pitching in a casual setting it should be meaningful, not a sales pitch. First, learn who you are talking to and assess what their world looks like, then present the opportunity and provide it in a context that is relevant to them.  Remember, even if you are not pitching, you are always pitching.

Everyone is hesitant at the beginning, but you warm into it. It is practice and persistence, and if you’re talking about something you love it comes naturally and people really engage.Bryden Campbell, Marketing Director

  1. Move on.

A golden rule of meaningful networking is to keep your conversations informative, pleasant but short. People you talk to want to also meet other people than you. If the conversation starts to get really interesting, use it as an opportunity to catch up with person after the event.

  1. Follow up.

This is one of the most important tips, make sure you process the information you have been able to absorb during the event and email or call people you have met to continue building the relationship. No follow ups = missed opportunities.

  1. Other events.

Do not just assume that First Wednesday Connect is the only networking event for you. There are other opportunities that may be even a better fit;

  1. Talk to us.

Approach anyone from the CBR Innovation Network team – we love to meet new people and are very happy to introduce you to new people.

We look forward to seeing you and your friends and colleagues at our next First Wednesday Connect. If you would like to talk to someone about the event and what you can get out of it, do not hesitate to contact us: enquiries@cbrin.com.au

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