How to stand out at tech startup conferences

As  published April 20, 2016 by StartUpBEAT and Home Business Magazine.

Tech startup conferences attract startups from all walks of life–big and small, new and old, east and west coast, VC funded, or still on the lookout for funding. If you’re anyone or anything on the tech scene, it is essential to put in the time and show up at the conference. While showing up is half the battle, it is also not enough. There are certain rules and protocols which may seem like common sense to some, but all too often are neglected by startups in all stages of the business.

1. Relax and Loosen Up – Presenting in person is hard, even fear-inducing for a lot of people. Being stale or stiff during presentations is probably one of the most common mistakes of presenters. So practice your pitch beforehand. And remember that the information you are sharing has real value to your audience. Engage them by talking with them, not at them; this will leave a lasting impression. It will also help you relax. Participating in a conversation is always easier giving a speech. Even when you are physically at the podium, use a conversational tone.

2. Don’t Drink Too Much – Tech conferences have liquor everywhere (at least the good ones do!). There are ample opportunities for mingling and drinking, which is a lot of fun and a more relaxed way to network. Just remember the reason why you are there in the first place. Drinking too much can come at the cost making the proper impression, and succeeding at these conferences. A drink here and there is alright, but getting wasted is a clear no.

3. Treat Everyone As An Equal – Society has trained us to think that a person of stature gives off a certain impression, or dresses a specific way. The tech startup scene has taken this notion and completely changed around the prior way of thinking. At these conferences, successful CEOs may be dressed in a t-shirt and jeans, while a newcomer may be dressed more formally. Basically, there is no way of telling who you need to impress, and who you should act more polite to. Treating every attendee as an equal is an important lesson for tech conferences and business encounters in general.

4. Use Social Media – Social media is an incredible tool that should be taken advantage of on a personal level as well as a business level. Outlets such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook are beaming with opportunity if used in the right way. At tech conferences, a business card or number is no longer the key to proper networking. Rather, it is important to connect with a contact that you meet on LinkedIn, and follow them on Twitter, which will ensure you remain on the radar, long after the conference is over. Some methods of using these to your benefit are taking pictures with your new contacts and tagging them, or retweeting quotes from the keynote speakers. This will often have a domino effect, which can put your social media pages in the eyes of the right people.

You would be surprised at how many individuals or companies with a great product neglect the tremendous opportunities that they have right in front of them. Keeping these notions in mind will ensure that the effort put into attending these conferences does not go to waste, and on the contrary are maximized to their fullest potential.

AlexAnndra Ontra is the co-founder of Shufflrr.