Hello, for those who may or may not be aware I spent this past week in Malaysia at the Global Startup Youth, which was a side event of this year’s Global Entrepreneurship Summit. It was an amazing event and experience that I learned a lot from but for the sake of this blog post I will keep it to two. First, that I need a business card! Secondly, my networking ability sucks.
I was partially kidding about the first part. As a college student, I don’t necessarily believe that I need a business card; because I don’t own a business. My occupation, like many other kids my age, is to be a college student. That being said, it wouldn’t hurt to have a card that contains contact information and maybe the clubs that are either a chair or participate of. At events such as GSY, you may not have enough time to whip out your phone and get that person’s contact information. So for the sake of being fast and efficient I may get a pale nimbus with raised lettering business card (American Psycho reference anyone?).
Personally, I am not an extrovert or very good at keeping a casual conversation. That is why I thought it would be next to impossible to get myself to approach any of the prominent guest speakers or other individuals with an amazing accomplishments. Although the conversations didn’t happen right off the bat, they did eventually did end up happening and I was able to exchange my contact with them. I would attribute my ‘success’ to two things: my ability to connect to them personally and my eagerness.
An easy way I found to get the ball rolling in a conversation was to resolve the conversation about a shared interest. With many of the prominent people I approached I already knew about their personal achievements and background. This makes it easy to be ‘starstruck’ in their presence and ask questions that you can easily find on Google. My most meaningful conversations were the ones about passionate topics. Just one question about coding to Orion Henry, the founder of Heroku, led to a ten minute enthusiastic breakdown of the pros and cons of all coding language. I developed a bond with the individuals that I spoke to that saw I was more interested in them as a person rather than their achievements. This leads me to my second point.
Individuals who see that you are genuinely interested in what they do and see that you are passionate about something that they can relate to are more willing to help you out. I am personally all over the place when it comes to things that I am passionate about. I can’t pinpoint one thing that drives me but I am a firm believer in learning as much as possible because it may benefit me in the future. One question that I found myself asking a lot of people was ‘What are you working on now?’ I may not have necessarily been interested in pursuing whatever they told me but I took it upon myself to probe and learn more. But if it was I made sure to tell them that it was up my alley. I was surprised about how willing these people were to give advice. To me that was a testament to their humility. Disclaimer, keep in mind that not everyone is the same, so this may not hold true for everyone you speak to.
I am signing off now. I hope you found this the least bit helpful. Be sure to continue to read all the Oxypreneurship blog post! Thanks!