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7 Tips for Building Relationships & Connecting at Conferences – ReadWrite

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7 Tips for Building Relationships & Connecting at Conferences - ReadWrite


An important part of honing our skills as business professionals is becoming better at meeting new people and building real relationships. The more we invest in practicing engaging with others effectively — the more natural our ability to build relationships, becomes. We then look forward to the process of building relationships and find genuine happiness in the process. Our opportunity set in life is a function of both what we know and who we know. And although we meet people everywhere we go, conferences afford a unique opportunity to change the “who we know” forever.

Timeless Tips for Connecting and Building Relationships at Conferences

We attend many events to acquire knowledge while fostering new connections. And because we’re all there for the same reason — to learn about new things and establish new relationships. We realize that these relationships could develop into long-term friendships or potential business partnerships.

Attending events

Attending events is the type of gathering that affords us the opportunity to make contacts easier. Although many conferences have gone virtual or been postponed due to the pandemic, it is more important than ever to attend these events now — and to build connections successfully.

Attending events now will entail both adapting to the “new normal” of socially distanced networking, in the short term, and preparing for an enthusiastic return to many new additional in-person networking in the long term.

Benefits of the connections

We don’t always see the real benefit of the connections we make at conferences right away. They must first be nurtured into meaningful relationships, and to do this successfully; we need a plan. Such relationships are gradually built through purposeful, patient, and authentic follow-up. An effective follow-up depends on the information you gather and the energy you invest to represent best who you are.

Authentic follow-ups

Authentic follow-up can help you stand out from the crowd because the “crowd” typically defaults to the easiest and sadly, least effective means of building relationships.

After you meet someone at a conference, one of two things happens: (1) You never hear from that person again, or (2) you receive a generic email or LinkedIn message saying something to the effect of, “It was nice meeting you at the conference. Let’s stay in touch,” perhaps with a link to a website.

If you have ever been guilty of either of these (as I have), establishing an action plan for new contacts will help you avoid repeating this common mistake. And the first step is preparation.

Set your specific goal before the conference

Before attending a conference, set some specific goals for yourself concerning the types of contacts you would like to make. Create a follow-up plan (before you go) for how you may be able to work with or help both the qualified contacts you meet and the less-than-ideal ones.

Remember that even though a person may not be an ideal contact for you, they may know someone else who is.

Furthermore, the most helpful and mutually beneficial relationships you establish might not be immediately obvious. You may need to have several meetings or conversations with an individual to discover your shared foundation of interest and opportunity.

For example, my colleague Sameer Somal at Blue Ocean Global Technology once met the head of sales for a financial services firm he introduced to others — but Sameer assumed that the new contact was not likely to work with our company directly. However, much later the new contact learned how Blue Ocean assists organizations in building a digital presence that supports sustainable sales growth.

The new contact connected back with Sameer and with the owner of his firm. The new contact included a strong written recommendation for hiring Blue Ocean Global Technology to create and implement a plan for better allocating their marketing, sales, and technology resources. Win-win for all of us.

Getting the most out of connecting, networking and building your relationships at your next conference or event.

  1. Focus on Connecting.

    During your initial conversations with people, really focus on them. When you give people your full attention, you make them feel important, and that may be the greatest gift of all between two human beings. Also, when people feel they’re truly being heard, they will talk more easily about themselves, their jobs, their passions, and their business.

    Face them directly to avoid being distracted by the activity around you and lean toward them slightly. Take care not to invade their personal space. If you’re in a crowded hallway or other noisy location, suggest moving to another area, perhaps an alcove or a quieter corner of the room so that you can engage with fewer distractions.

    And when you meet someone new and they are speaking — resist the urge to look around to see who else is in the room or what else is going on. Just don’t — looking around indirectly tells the person you don’t really care about what they’re saying and can create an unfavorable first impression (about you) that might be difficult to recover from.

Alex Jenkins, Relationship Director and Investment Specialist at Avantis Investors, make a conscious effort to avoid the topic of business when he meets someone for the first time. If the other person chooses to discuss professional interests or work matters, Alex will join in, but he never proactively steers the conversation in that direction.

By avoiding direct mention of business, Alex shows that he is interested in who that person is rather than simply what they do.

Paying close attention to your new contacts will help you learn what is important to them at that moment or in their life in general. Besides sharing potentially valuable business information, they might mention their favorite sports team, reference a movie they enjoy or disclose something personal about a loved one.

Focusing on your new acquaintance builds trust. Treat these individuals as though they’re the source of the most satisfying business relationship you’ll ever have because they just might be.

Here is Alex Jenkins, of Blue Ocean, speaking at an event.
  1. Record Important Details.

    Be prepared to gather details beyond a person’s basic contact information, and either take notes during your conversations or jot down your primary takeaways immediately after speaking with them.

    Consider using the note feature on your phone or a small notebook that fits in your pocket so that the information is all in one place. At the very least, make notes on the back of the business cards you collect or use a recorder app on your smartphone.

    Don’t expect to simply remember details. No matter how fascinating a conversation may be, we are bound to start forgetting key bits of information as soon as the next exciting conversation begins. Always take a few minutes to process and document some of the critical points from your initial conversation with a new contact.

  1. Listen to Learn.

    When someone shares information with you about themselves, respond by acknowledging it with a related comment or question. Don’t just move on to the next topic you have in mind.

    Providing others with positive feedback builds rapport, which in turn leads to trust. And the information you gather might prove useful in follow-up conversations.

    Let’s say the individual mentions a new product launch for their business. You could ask them how they feel about the product or how it’s different from the business’s other offerings. Your response could be as simple as, “Thank you for sharing. Tell me more about that.” Their replies will help you understand what is most important to them, and knowing what’s important to them is a cornerstone in building your relationship.

“When you remember a specific part of someone’s story that they told you and relay it back to them in a question such as, ‘How did your big pitch go last week?’ in a follow-up email, people will want to grow the relationship,” says John Livesay, author of Better Selling Through Storytelling.

  1. Define Your Relationship.

    Consider why each new contact is interested in speaking with you.

    Ask them what type of person they’re hoping to meet at the conference. Perhaps you are that person. But if not, offer to introduce them to someone in your network who might be a good match. Ideally, this will engage what’s known as the Law of Reciprocity, meaning they will feel somewhat obligated to return the favor.

    You’ve now expanded your reach at the conference. (Conversely, this may also help you identify “takers,” those with little or no interest in genuinely helping you, no matter how much you help them.)

    If appropriate, exchange business phone numbers so you can quickly contact each other if and when you encounter another person they should meet, and vice versa.

  1. Learn Their Preferences.

    Ask each new person you meet how they wish to be contacted. Some might be swamped with email and would prefer a phone call. Others may favor a quick text message to arrange a time for a call or meeting. Your goal is to connect with them simultaneously and in a fashion that would make them most receptive to you.

    Respecting their wishes demonstrates your desire to cultivate an authentic relationship with them—at their convenience—and can highlight how you are different.

  1. Focus on Qualified Contacts.

    Go for quality over quantity. Returning from a conference with hundreds of new contacts doesn’t necessarily make you a winner. The value lies in the number of qualified contacts you make. Interact and invest time with as many people as you will realistically be able to follow up with later.

    I used to follow up with everyone in the same way, and that was exhausting. Seek out individuals who seem most qualified to do business with you directly or who might be instrumental in facilitating another relationship that could be beneficial.

    Work your usual business qualifying questions into your conversations. Who knows? You might be speaking with an ideal, potential, client who presents a need your business can resolve and can generate new business sooner rather than later.

“The most qualified relationships are those in which you enter into with an open mind, wanting to learn from others. As successful philanthropists often say, the act of volunteering is selfish because it makes us feel good. As such, connecting with people should also be about what you can gain from them. What you receive from others is of more value than what you could possibly exude.” —Marie Beane, Director of IBM Worldwide Storage.

  1. Schedule Your Follow-up.

    Effectively following up with people takes time, so before you even leave for a conference, schedule opportunities in your calendar during the week immediately after your event, in which to reach out to your new contacts.

    Otherwise, you risk falling back into your regular routine and neglecting or postponing this important step in the relationship-building process. Those generic messages I mentioned earlier are often the result of not setting aside the necessary time to follow up.

    Although mediocre businesspeople will follow up poorly and feel satisfied that they at least did something — that’s not how truly successful business professionals operate.

When carefully managed, your initial contacts with people at conferences can sow the seeds for fruitful business relationships in the future.

Recognize that strong connections aren’t built in just a few minutes or even a day, though, so your follow-up plan is key.

To set the stage for success, empower yourself with valuable information by being attentive to details, incorporating those details into your subsequent communications, and seeking to nurture positive associations for everyone involved.

Internal Post Image Credit: provided by the author; thank you!

Top Image Credit: antonio jamal roberson; pexels; thank you!

Rachita Sharma

Rachita Sharma

CEO & Co-founder

Rachita Sharma is the CEO and Co-founder of Girl Power Talk. She also serves as the Chief Marketing Officer of Blue Ocean Global Technology. Her responsibilities include corporate communications, client engagement, and new business development. She leads the evaluation of all new potential Girl Power Talk team members and expansion into new markets. Rachita is committed to leveraging digital technology to improve efficiency and profitability. She guides strategic collaboration with agency partners in North America & Europe.
Rachita seeks to create a merit-based culture that rewards integrity, persistence, and achievement. In 2020, she was awarded the ‘Most Promising Woman in IT‘ Award by ANWA and Indian Achiever’s Award for ‘Young Entrepreneur’ in recognition of inspiring social contributions. As a technology entrepreneur, financial literacy advocate and voice for those who don’t have one on social issues adversely impacting women in India, Rachita finds inspiration in Mother Teresa’s wisdom: “None of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful.”

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Fintech Kennek raises $12.5M seed round to digitize lending

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Google eyed for $2 billion Anthropic deal after major Amazon play


London-based fintech startup Kennek has raised $12.5 million in seed funding to expand its lending operating system.

According to an Oct. 10 tech.eu report, the round was led by HV Capital and included participation from Dutch Founders Fund, AlbionVC, FFVC, Plug & Play Ventures, and Syndicate One. Kennek offers software-as-a-service tools to help non-bank lenders streamline their operations using open banking, open finance, and payments.

The platform aims to automate time-consuming manual tasks and consolidate fragmented data to simplify lending. Xavier De Pauw, founder of Kennek said:

“Until kennek, lenders had to devote countless hours to menial operational tasks and deal with jumbled and hard-coded data – which makes every other part of lending a headache. As former lenders ourselves, we lived and breathed these frustrations, and built kennek to make them a thing of the past.”

The company said the latest funding round was oversubscribed and closed quickly despite the challenging fundraising environment. The new capital will be used to expand Kennek’s engineering team and strengthen its market position in the UK while exploring expansion into other European markets. Barbod Namini, Partner at lead investor HV Capital, commented on the investment:

“Kennek has developed an ambitious and genuinely unique proposition which we think can be the foundation of the entire alternative lending space. […] It is a complicated market and a solution that brings together all information and stakeholders onto a single platform is highly compelling for both lenders & the ecosystem as a whole.”

The fintech lending space has grown rapidly in recent years, but many lenders still rely on legacy systems and manual processes that limit efficiency and scalability. Kennek aims to leverage open banking and data integration to provide lenders with a more streamlined, automated lending experience.

The seed funding will allow the London-based startup to continue developing its platform and expanding its team to meet demand from non-bank lenders looking to digitize operations. Kennek’s focus on the UK and Europe also comes amid rising adoption of open banking and open finance in the regions.

Featured Image Credit: Photo from Kennek.io; Thank you!

Radek Zielinski

Radek Zielinski is an experienced technology and financial journalist with a passion for cybersecurity and futurology.

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Fortune 500’s race for generative AI breakthroughs

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Deanna Ritchie


As excitement around generative AI grows, Fortune 500 companies, including Goldman Sachs, are carefully examining the possible applications of this technology. A recent survey of U.S. executives indicated that 60% believe generative AI will substantially impact their businesses in the long term. However, they anticipate a one to two-year timeframe before implementing their initial solutions. This optimism stems from the potential of generative AI to revolutionize various aspects of businesses, from enhancing customer experiences to optimizing internal processes. In the short term, companies will likely focus on pilot projects and experimentation, gradually integrating generative AI into their operations as they witness its positive influence on efficiency and profitability.

Goldman Sachs’ Cautious Approach to Implementing Generative AI

In a recent interview, Goldman Sachs CIO Marco Argenti revealed that the firm has not yet implemented any generative AI use cases. Instead, the company focuses on experimentation and setting high standards before adopting the technology. Argenti recognized the desire for outcomes in areas like developer and operational efficiency but emphasized ensuring precision before putting experimental AI use cases into production.

According to Argenti, striking the right balance between driving innovation and maintaining accuracy is crucial for successfully integrating generative AI within the firm. Goldman Sachs intends to continue exploring this emerging technology’s potential benefits and applications while diligently assessing risks to ensure it meets the company’s stringent quality standards.

One possible application for Goldman Sachs is in software development, where the company has observed a 20-40% productivity increase during its trials. The goal is for 1,000 developers to utilize generative AI tools by year’s end. However, Argenti emphasized that a well-defined expectation of return on investment is necessary before fully integrating generative AI into production.

To achieve this, the company plans to implement a systematic and strategic approach to adopting generative AI, ensuring that it complements and enhances the skills of its developers. Additionally, Goldman Sachs intends to evaluate the long-term impact of generative AI on their software development processes and the overall quality of the applications being developed.

Goldman Sachs’ approach to AI implementation goes beyond merely executing models. The firm has created a platform encompassing technical, legal, and compliance assessments to filter out improper content and keep track of all interactions. This comprehensive system ensures seamless integration of artificial intelligence in operations while adhering to regulatory standards and maintaining client confidentiality. Moreover, the platform continuously improves and adapts its algorithms, allowing Goldman Sachs to stay at the forefront of technology and offer its clients the most efficient and secure services.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Google DeepMind; Pexels; Thank you!

Deanna Ritchie

Managing Editor at ReadWrite

Deanna is the Managing Editor at ReadWrite. Previously she worked as the Editor in Chief for Startup Grind and has over 20+ years of experience in content management and content development.

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UK seizes web3 opportunity simplifying crypto regulations

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Deanna Ritchie


As Web3 companies increasingly consider leaving the United States due to regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom must simplify its cryptocurrency regulations to attract these businesses. The conservative think tank Policy Exchange recently released a report detailing ten suggestions for improving Web3 regulation in the country. Among the recommendations are reducing liability for token holders in decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) and encouraging the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to adopt alternative Know Your Customer (KYC) methodologies, such as digital identities and blockchain analytics tools. These suggestions aim to position the UK as a hub for Web3 innovation and attract blockchain-based businesses looking for a more conducive regulatory environment.

Streamlining Cryptocurrency Regulations for Innovation

To make it easier for emerging Web3 companies to navigate existing legal frameworks and contribute to the UK’s digital economy growth, the government must streamline cryptocurrency regulations and adopt forward-looking approaches. By making the regulatory landscape clear and straightforward, the UK can create an environment that fosters innovation, growth, and competitiveness in the global fintech industry.

The Policy Exchange report also recommends not weakening self-hosted wallets or treating proof-of-stake (PoS) services as financial services. This approach aims to protect the fundamental principles of decentralization and user autonomy while strongly emphasizing security and regulatory compliance. By doing so, the UK can nurture an environment that encourages innovation and the continued growth of blockchain technology.

Despite recent strict measures by UK authorities, such as His Majesty’s Treasury and the FCA, toward the digital assets sector, the proposed changes in the Policy Exchange report strive to make the UK a more attractive location for Web3 enterprises. By adopting these suggestions, the UK can demonstrate its commitment to fostering innovation in the rapidly evolving blockchain and cryptocurrency industries while ensuring a robust and transparent regulatory environment.

The ongoing uncertainty surrounding cryptocurrency regulations in various countries has prompted Web3 companies to explore alternative jurisdictions with more precise legal frameworks. As the United States grapples with regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom can position itself as a hub for Web3 innovation by simplifying and streamlining its cryptocurrency regulations.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Jonathan Borba; Pexels; Thank you!

Deanna Ritchie

Managing Editor at ReadWrite

Deanna is the Managing Editor at ReadWrite. Previously she worked as the Editor in Chief for Startup Grind and has over 20+ years of experience in content management and content development.

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