05.04.2012 0 Comments

Finding your innovation partner, how do you start?

Finding your innovation partner, how do you start?

When it comes to being innovative you really should start thinking outside of the box. Maybe you need a partner who will be able to bring a number of incentives to the table: new knowledge, different ideas, innovative ways of solving problems together, etc.

But before you start embarking on a partnership, you need to start thinking about the people that you already know within your network, or sometimes you need to start networking first in order to look for a partner.

If you asked me what makes a good networker, I could say a number of fixed factors according to my own experience. A cocktail that starts with your own DNA (your genes will define what your personality is from the very beginning), your upbringing and the culture which you identify with, fate and luck in who you meet at different events and, of course, once you are more experienced planning to be more effective when it comes to meeting new people.

If you are starting to network and meet potential business collaborations by attending events, I would suggest that you prepare yourself by making sure you have a clear, concise and sexy networking pitch. Here are 4 steps to build this sexy and appealing networking pitch:

1. Open the conversation by being interesting, sometimes a little bit shocking. Why not?

2. Follow by demonstrating that your business offers a solution to a problem (ideally global and easy to understand). We are in world where benefits to customers follow on from the offer to solve their problems.

3. Use a case study. It could be the most recent customer you have acquired, for example. You can also make it real by giving it a full identity, such as the name of the person, age, situation, etc…

4. Be passionate about what you do. Don’t be afraid to show why you love your job/your business.

So you have an attractive networking pitch, what next?

Make sure you don’t forget practical things such as:

  • Wear your badge on the right hand side (much easier for people to see your name when shacking your hand)
  • Work the room
  • Never corner people (they end up being scared or bored of you)
  • Don’t mix food and drink with the conversation as this is quite distressing for the other person whose attention you are trying to get
  • Use clear and simple language, avoid technical vocabulary
  • Try to be personal and not look like the conversation is simply a business transaction
  • Add little touches that will make you seem unique such as the addition of a QR Code on your business card or having your own branded badge
  • Don’t be afraid to stand out of the crowd, always for the right reasons, of course.

In summary, if you have decided to give networking a go, don’t be afraid of being memorable, think outside of the box when you attend an event, and start joining the dots between all the connections you have in order to tap into other people’s knowledge, contacts or even funding? And if in doubt, here is what will always work to calm anyone’s nerves in any situation, a good old fashioned SMILE.

Placi O’Neill-Espejo

Placi O’Neill-Espejo is Partnership Manager for Bicester Vision, a project hosted by Ngage.

Photo Credit: Hampton Roads Partnership