Heading to #mtpcon London later this week? In this blog post you’ll find some easy ways to network with every product person who crosses your path.
Expanding your professional (and personal network) helps you to broaden your thinking, share knowledge, discover new ideas, understand market opportunities, get inspiration, and simply to meet like-minded product people. In his bestselling book on the power of relationships, Never Eat Alone, Keith Farazzi highlights the importance of a professional network and how building relationships that will last a lifetime is vital.
But first, you need to make the connections to build on.
For some, this comes naturally but for others, it’s more like pulling teeth. So what are the best ways to maximise every networking opportunity?
Relevant events provide the perfect setting for in-person networking. Take a conference like #mtpcon London. With over 1,700 product people all in one place, it’s a great opportunity to meet new people. And you don’t even have to wait until the day to connect with other attendees – for all of our #mtpcons, we set up a number of channels for attendees to talk in.
Heading to #mtpcon London this week? If you haven’t already, download the official #mtpcon app, Attendify, on the App Store or Google Play. On it, you’ll find important information about speakers, the schedule, our sponsors, and all the activities happening around the event. But, best of all, you can use it to search for other attendees and message them directly. As an attendee, you’ll have received instructions on how how to access the app already (look for an email from us with the subject: Sign up to our #mtpcon London app).
You can also connect on Twitter by following @mindtheproduct and by using the #mtpcon hashtag. In addition, you’ll find more than 27,000 members when you join Mind the Product on Slack. To meet other conference attendees once you’re there, head to the #mtpcon channel.
Connecting in advance of an event like this is more useful than you might think. You can research who’ll be in attendance, and plan who it is you’d like to speak with, instead of taking a random outreach approach. Essentially, you’ve got your hands on the guestlist before you’ve walked in the door.
Have a Gameplan
It pays to be clear about what it is you want to achieve on the day of your conference or event, Do you simply want to make more product contacts? To develop connections within a particular company or industry? Or to find someone who can help you with a challenge you’re currently facing?
Knowing the answers to these questions – and having found out who’s going to be there – will help you to design your hitlist and make initial introductions so much easier. Rather than approaching someone you don’t know without a conversation starter at the ready, you can focus your introduction by referencing something you know the person is interested in or working on. Not entirely sure about the specifics of their role or company? Ask them. Start by acknowledging the company they work for, and cover the basics such as:
- What product do you work with?
- What’s the products most popular feature?
- Who are the users?
- What are your biggest challenges?
- Who’s your competition?
All you need is one nugget of information to break the ice and get the ball rolling. After that, the more you know, the more it also tells your new contact about you. You’re organised, focused, and you’ve done your homework.
A Helping Hand
At #mtpcon London, we’ll also do our best to give your networking a helpful nudge. You’ll find icebreaker cards to fuel your conversations, pin badges to speak for you (choose from a fun selection that will help to kick-start your chats), and, for the first time, even an area to try speed networking.
Like speed dating (and potentially just as fun) speed networking gives you a chance to exchange information with others at pace. To take part, and connect with new product people, join us on conference day opposite the barista on the ground floor at 11:30, 13:45, 14:15, and 16:10.
Again, come prepared to make the most of these sessions. Have your business cards at the ready, be set to share your background and goals, and have a selection of questions you’d love the answers to, lined up.
You can also join Mixpanel (one of our lovely Gold sponsors) on Thursday, 17th July, for the official #mtpcon London kick-off event. Relax with some delicious food and drinks, meet other attendees, and kick off the conference in style.
You’ll need a code to register for this event. Conference ticket holders will be emailed invite codes in advance. Learn more and sign up now.
Get Warmed up
Of course, it can take a little time to warm up to the idea of networking in a crowded room of people you’ve (mostly) never met, but try to avoid sticking to the people you already know, especially at the start of the day. If you’re not quite ready to go in full force, you can target an audience that’s guaranteed to be receptive, such as:
The #mtpcon Crew
Our core team and volunteers are product people and even though we’re working, we want to network too. We’re a friendly bunch, so feel free to use us as your warm-up gig. After registration is the best time to get us – just look for the people in cyan!
Sponsors and Exhibitors
Our event sponsors and exhibitors are there because they want to talk to people, like you, about product so be sure to go and talk to them. Not only will they have interesting things to tell you about what they do – they’ll be interested in your stories too.
The Product Experience
Lily Smith and Randy Silver, the hosts of our podcast The Product Experience will be waiting to meet you in the Fountain Room on the ground floor (next to the bookstall). So, whether you’re already an avid listener or want to find out more about the show, you can go and chat to them about episodes you’ve loved, guest speakers you’d love to hear, maybe even ideas you have for upcoming episode themes. And hey, that’s two more great connections made!
The Challenge of Networking
If you’re already a seasoned hand at networking, the idea won’t cause you to break a sweat but that’s not the case for everyone. Walking up to a stranger can be daunting. But keep in mind that, if you’re at an event like #mtpcon, then most people are there to network, just like you. If you’re confident and happy to chat, smile and be open to make it easier for people to approach you.
If you’re dreading the breaks because you’re anxious about mingling, use some of the tips above to go into the day with a gameplan. Slap on a smile, be open and don’t be afraid to make the first move – it’s likely that lots of other people are probably hoping someone else will so they don’t have to.
And Finally…the Afterparty
After the final talk on conference day, follow our volunteers (AKA the Cyan Army) to our epic afterparty where you can continue those networking conversations. Your ticket is your conference badge – don’t forget it!
Need More Inspiration?
Kenneth Chin, the Chief Product Officer for Seek Asia, has described himself as the most extroverted introvert you’ll ever meet. He’s trained himself to be that way when the need arises. In his talk Leading Product Teams in Asia, at #mtpcon Singapore, he talks about this and offers advice for becoming more comfortable in front of others.
More great networking advice:
- How to Network at Conferences Without Being Awkward
- 17 Tips for Surviving Your Next Networking Event
- The Ultimate Networking Guide for Introverts
Networking aside, there are plenty of other ways to make the most of your time at #mtpcon London.