How to successfully network at a TED event?


Beyond attending the conference, there are multiple things to do once you get your TEDxVienna pass. As it is a public event, you will find yourself surrounded by a lot of like minded people. Not everyone finds it easy to go around and mingle, although it’s the type of event where you can meet people with shared interests and make professional connections easily. Do you know how to network? Let’s have a look at some insights about networking at a TEDx Conference and how it can lead to successful stories!

Watching a TEDx Talk at home and attending a conference: two different experiences

Whenever we attend an event of this type in real life, we discover topics that we wouldn’t have checked online. For instance, when we browse on Youtube, we are most likely to narrow our search to our personal preferences. Then, this leads to a phenomenon called filter bubble: a state of intellectual isolation when a website algorithm selectively guesses what information a user would like to see. On the contrary, when we attend a conference for a particular speaker, we stumble across a wide range of topics that we wouldn’t have necessarily sought and seen online.

Lastly, you participate at this event which gathers hundreds of participants. It’s a great opportunity to make contacts and explore new connections with many like minded peers. Welcome to the world of networking !

 

Networking: a social productive time to meet potential collaborators 

Many people wouldn’t know where to start but it’s easier than it looks.Networking is the exchange of information and ideas among people with a common profession or special interest, usually in an informal social setting”. You don’t really need a suit or a title to go for it. Here are a few of our tips :

  • be yourself: OK, this is a basic one, and yet, the most important one. In order to create long lasting relationships, you don’t always need to shine bright, but to show your true self. Be open to people and don’t hesitate to talk about yourself. This is the perfect time to engage in deeper conversation, skipping the chit-chat.
  • Bring your business cards (if you have some): It might seem that they belong to a certain type of people, even though they don’t. Anyone can have them and it’s a handy way to keep in touch with someone but not only that. A business card will pass on a message to your interlocutor: you are ready to establish a further relationship.
  • Let yourself be inspired: You will find that inspirational people are not only on stage but also among the crowd! Socialising is about sharing stories that can change lives, paths and careers!

 

Where to network at a TEDx event?

TEDx conferences are facilitating socialising and networking between people. You will always find ways to interact and chat with other attendees easily, in queues, lounges or at interactive stations set up by TEDx partners and speakers. This is where you can meet people through games or activities. Some people would call them ‘ice-breakers’ but we see them as exceedingly interesting and plain good fun! At TEDxvienna specifically, don’t be afraid to check out the Blogger / Podcast corner: there will be a book swap happening this year. It will be a space to discuss and share ideas with fellow attendees and TEDxVienna team members.

Do you feel more comfortable with the idea of meeting peers and sharing your stories? We wanted to share with you the story of Julia, who met her current employer at a TEDxVienna conference two years ago.

A successful meeting, not planned nor expected

In 2017, Julia was a volunteer with TEDxVienna: “I was working at the Blogger Corner and we had this thing call “speed debating” where we would sit down two people who didn’t know each other and we let them draw from a bowl little quotes from our blog that were somewhat controversial and we let them discuss it. The idea was that strangers can get a chance to interact with each other at the conference. It was quite successful. I was also participating and this is when I met one of my colleagues with whom I’m working now. We started to talk and they told me about this idea that they had for a magazine and we talked about collaborating. That happens a lot at the conference: people approach you, they’re interested to do collaborations, etc. It happens fairly quickly.”

“After this first article, I always kept in touch with them, we regularly checked in with each other, he was like “can I have your advice on something?” or “How would you handle this?”. Then in June, we met up again and he asked me “what do I have to offer you to make you work for me?”

For Julia, this was a new experience: “In the beginning it felt really weird (laugh), even just calling myself an editor or writer felt a little weird. […] What I learnt is that you are not alone in this, I think you feel awkward but probably the other person feels just as awkward. I think it takes a really long time and a lot of experience, not to feel weird about it. […] I don’t think I have actually until now actually given anyone my card yet, I don’t even carry them (laugh).

 

Be consistent & authentic with a positive mind: the keys to building strong relationships

When I asked Julia about her expectation from the event, she explains she wasn’t so much in the mind-frame of meeting people for work. She didn’t consider herself as a  “networking person” and, even though she would feel confident talking to anyone, she felt quite nervous in this situation. Her advice: “try to embrace the diversity by talking to a lot of people because I think a lot of people are in a very inspired mindset when they are at a TEDx conference.”

“I think in the end, what helped me get this job, because I never really applied for it, and that’s a very important thing a lot of people forget about, if you are consistent and follow through, things can happen. For example, if you say you’ll check in with a person, do it. Be open minded to also do something just because it feels right or because of the joy of the work you find in it.”

She concludes: “I did not stay in touch with the people I met because I wanted to work for them, I stayed in touch because I felt like it can only be profitable to support my peers. Only good things can be created from this. It doesn’t have to be my personal advantage but in the end I feel like maybe someone else will feel they can help me without expecting anything in return. I think from supporting your peers and trying to lift each other up, it can only have a positive impact, even if it’s only a learning opportunity for yourself.

It’s now your time to shine and we wish you a happy networking at TEDxVienna and many successful encounters!

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