February 25, 2014

Networking at the Teradata Marketing Summit

When you are gathered with hundreds of marketing professionals from a wide variety of industries for a week of learning and lunching, what is the first thing you want to do? Talk to them, of course! With the Teradata summit coming up soon, networking should be on the top of everyone’s mind. The way that conventions are arranged, however, doesn’t always lend itself to easily interacting with new people.

We head to conventions with typically 1-2 other representatives from our company. While there, the convention dining room and sessions can feel closer to high school than high-end business. Attendees who have been there for several years have a wide range of contacts that they want to meet up with before engaging new people. Excitement about session attendance and ideas gained can lead to huddles with your team at inopportune moments. Even in the main room, with everyone gathered together, there is so much going on that it is challenging to speak with new people over the lights, music, awards, and speeches.

Remembering all of this from last year’s Apex Summit, I’ve created a list of ideas for making that first step towards a meaningful conversation with someone new.

Update your team before mealtimes – It can seem like breakfast is the best time to coordinate schedules and update your teammates on the interesting things you’ve learned. Unfortunately, this is also the best time to start up these conversations with people you haven’t yet met. If possible, try to set up a system of updating each other through emails at night, or quick recap meetings between meals and sessions. This will leave you ready to meet new people every morning.

Be flexible with your schedule – There are over 100 sessions scheduled, designed to share experiences with Teradata technology and educate users on adding value. (Don’t forget, we will be holding a session of our own on Tuesday, 3/11 at 2pm!) The sessions are valuable, but sometimes a conversation can be much more important.  Last year, our team made a connection waiting for a session to start that caused us, enthralled by a conversation about strategy and business needs, to miss the session and led to a new working partnership.

penBorrow a pen – Benjamin Franklin once turned a political rival into a friend by asking to borrow a book, then returning it on time, undamaged, and with sincere thanks. Putting yourself in a minor debt and then immediately paying it back (be sure to return the pen, post-session!) has been proven to be one of the quickest ways to bond with someone. It is also a way to start a conversation with anyone without seeming awkward; if the first person you ask doesn’t have a pen, you can talk to another while continuing conversations with the first!

Keep it high-level – A major conversational weakness I have is my passion for my job. In conversation with others in our industry, I have been known to dive immediately to a deep level of detail that can be of questionable transparency or relevance. It’s easy to be excited that you are surrounded by others who are familiar with Teradata and similar technologies, but try to focus on high-level topics: What their company/team does, where they are located, what they thought of the speakers, etc. Building a conversational base will create a better memory than immediately drawing technical diagrams on the tablecloth.

Wear comfortable shoes – I’m a huge fan of looking good, especially when presenting and meeting new people! For me, this usually means a killer pair of heels. The Teradata summit may not be the time to trot out a new pair of kicks, however. It is much easier to mingle when you’re mobile, at any cocktail reception, buffet lunch, or session break. With this in mind, both men and women should be sure to pack for success.

These tips and tricks may not seem groundbreaking, but they can make the difference you need to come away with more real connections, and business cards that really mean something for future endeavors.

Want to borrow a pen? Come and find a member of the Covalent team at the Summit. Anyone not attending, we can start a conversation right now, simply email or comment below!