- Know why you are there – Are you there to meet media, investors, customers? Have a strategy and stick to it. If you know who you want to meet and why, it’s much easier to operate, not just float.
- Do the advance work – Go download the Collision investor list now! Download the attendee list. Identify who you want to meet and why. The investors who want to meet you will be there, but you need a focused approach. Figure out their sector focus and investment stage. The best way to do this is tracking past investments. You need a spreadsheet where you capture all your investor research and then can reach out in a targeted thoughtful way to the investors for whom your actually a fit. Don’t waste your time or theirs if its not – an investor focused on VR and AI is not going to be interested in meeting a HealthTech startup
- Set up meetings – Do not just rely on meeting people there. You’ll absolutely have the serendipity of meeting people, but the more you have your schedule stacked in advance, the more you’ll be in control of a great outcome. Reach out to people to build a relationship and then decide how you’ll connect. Some people (like me) don’t want to set firm meetings but will loosely schedule “i.e. let’s connect on Tuesday after my talk, here’s my cell, text me.” A great way to do this is through the Collision app. I was amazed at Web Summit how many people responded to the messaging in the app, so hit people up directly and do it in the weeks leading up to Collision.
- Come prepared – Make sure you bring a phone charger (don’t worry MobileQubes will be onsite), business cards are probably a good idea, they are just faster for an information exchange. If you’re in a exhibition booth something memorable for people is great, but people also don’t like to carry around a bunch of stuff so make it memorable or foldable.
- Build awareness – What about running Twitter / FB ads to the lists above? Engage in conversation with folks on Twitter before hand. If you can create a situation where people say “I think I’ve heard about you” when you meet them you are 10x more likely they’ll remember you afterwards. You need to stand out, and you can do that in advance as well as at the Conference.
- Work hard and Play hard – a lot of the meaningful connections during Collision will happen at night summit events and after hours. Have fun, make friends, create experiences. But don’t drink so much you can’t do it all over again the next day or you’ll be wasting your time with a hangover.
HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE
- Own the evening – Book dinners that you can invite people to (Lock in a restaurant reservation now, decide who’s coming later). Lock in a table at a bar for late night cocktails. Pro tip: investors and speakers may be scheduled for dinner, but they will be looking for an interesting place for a nightcap. Since you know the town, you can create interesting, unique experiences for people. Who doesn’t want to hang with a local?
- Exercise activities – We know what a week in NOLA can be like with the eating and the drinking and the eating. People want to work out too. Invite people to go for a run in City Park or a bike ride to the Bywater. Hit up the Sweat Social to set up a morning fitness networking event. I bet you can get some real interest in non-drinking related activities.
- Map the coffee – There are several new coffee shops near the convention center. Taking someone offsite for a decent cup might be the pick-me-up they need.
- Run ads on the pedi cabs. Better yet get the pedi cab drivers your elevator pitch. Buy a bunch of free rides for people.
- Skywriting around the city. It always seems people are doing this around Jazz Fest. I flew a plane around Jazz Fest for the launch of Huckabuck 10 years ago, it cost $8k for both weekends.
- Hire a brass band to show up
- Host a crawfish boil
- People will be immersing themselves in the NOLA – you know what people want so create a unique experience
Finally, don’t forget about Jazz Fest. Create a unique experience for people by inviting them into your Jazz Fest traditions.
- Get a brass pass or a VIP pass that you can share with someone you really want to impress.
- Throw a crawfish boil or post-Jazz Fest party, or get invites to one that you can bring a group to.
- Get tickets to sold out shows that you can share. People will forget to book night-shows in advance.
- Make a plan to meet at the fairgrounds and show a new friend the authentic NOLA experience and all the small stage stuff. I’ve done this with Launch Fest speakers every year, and its such an amazing experience and bond.