I’ll be at the Startup Fest starting tomorrow in Montreal. I think it’ll be awesome! I’ve heard great things about it. I have one super important tip for all of you.

But first, why are you reading a post about the Startup Fest from someone that never attended before? Here’s the thing…all conferences and professional gatherings have one thing in common. And that thing is what I think you should focus on, no matter what conference or event you’re attending.

The core of it

So, what is it? It’s people. Surprise! There is a bunch of people. Most of them you never heard of. That’s awesome! It’s a ton of opportunity to meet new people and make new friends and connections.

No, it doesn’t mean throwing business cards all around after a 2-minute conversation. Please, don’t do that. In fact, it might not even involve any business card.

So, how to make the most out of the Startup Fest and any other conference? Kick yourself in the butt and talk to new people. Ask them who they are and what they do…and there you go, it’s started!

Are you shy? Yeah, I get it.

I am too. You think that because I give talks at conferences and meetups, organize meetups, do a bunch sales calls, I am not shy? Well, surprise: I am! 🙂 I’m also super social. A weird mix…even if you’re shy…do it! It’s not that hard. And it gets easier and easier.

Not sure how to start the conversation? Here’s a mad simple tip: “Hey, I’m JP”. They’ll introduce themselves. Either they will continue and the conversation is started, or you will have to ask them a super complex question: “what are you doing?” or something similar. It depends on the context, but you might have to add a word or two…or change it to something like “Where are you working?” or “What’s your business doing?”. Crazy huh? It’s that simple. Everything else will just flow. Once in a while, it won’t. That’s fine. There’s a ton of people.

But I’m with friends/colleagues/someone…

I don’t care if you are with your friend or colleagues. In general, it doesn’t matter. Don’t stay with them too much or at all. Just talk to new people. Unless the conference is a team building activity, I guess! 😉 Other than that, if you don’t meet new people, it’s a bunch of missed opportunities. Some people might be interested in your product; some could use your help with feedback or introduce you to someone else, and vice-versa. It could be a missed opportunity to meet someone that you will hire, or that will “just” become a friend! 😉 Don’t try to sell anything to people. Just be there, listen to them and talk with them. Yes, you can and should totally mention what you’re doing, but don’t do a sales pitch, unless they ask for it, obviously! 😉

I’ve met so many people in conferences that became friends, employers, or both. Some that I ended up working with, that I introduced to some other friends who made them both successful, etc. People I still am in touch with. People I met at multiple conferences. You never know what will come out of this. It might be the most useful day of your life, or not. Make it fun. Don’t try to plan who you should talk to. Just go out there and be yourself. It should pay off one day.

The Startup Fest’s gonna be awesome. A bunch of people will be there. A few thousands. And the weather is apparently going to be insanely nice, which is great for outdoor events!

Are you going to be there? Email me and let’s meet! 🙂

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