We learned about sales at business events and built winning teams

We started Tuesday's startup afternoon with Daniela Bervar Kotolenko, who does networking as her job. She took participants on the path of effective networking with the final goal of sales. We learned how to sell 1-on-1 at business events, what's appropriate and what isn't, how to approach different people, we talked about business etiquette, learned about the culture of connecting, networking and other. It's important that participants not only learned something from this experience but will now also know how to use it. We also talked about how to act, about conceitedness, honesty, casualness, how to find a way out of different messes, and many other important networking elements. 

The importance of a personal website

Once a person works in global business networks, LinkedIn isn't enough anymore. In Slovenia, having a personal website isn't established practice yet, but it is something completely ordinary abroad. It has become nearly mandatory if you want to build a network effectively. How to prepare for networking The first rule we have to internalize is to tell our name, surname and the company we come from every time we stand up.
The feelings when we go network aren't always only pleasant. But we have to realize that everyone left their house in order to network. You only need to overcome these psychological barriers. We're too proud to ask or we don't dare to. By asking, you gather information you'll be able to use for yourself. Asking at events is an opportunity to introduce yourself, it's your selling moment, you can make publicity for yourself. How to act and what role to play at a marketing event That feeling when you arrive and don't know anyone. .

Before you go network, you have to mentally prepare yourself, don't bring along your everyday problems. Be positive, don't whine. Keep the right balance between listening and talking.

The next important element you shouldn't neglect are business cards. You always have to have them with you and they have to contain all contact information, including a phone number.
Introduction and homework before the event. You have to be able to tell people what you do in a single sentence that even a primary school student would understand. Prepare your introduction and internalize it. Your homework before the event is to make an analysis of your company in order to figure out who you can collaborate with. Find out who your potential business partners are, which media you can connect with, how you can work with various institutions that aren't from the economic sphere, do research on where you have business synergies that can enrich your business. You have to be aware that networking isn't small talk but is instead an important sales opportunity. So do an analysis, because once you know what you need, you'll know what to ask, you'll know how to collect information. 
The first thing you want to achieve when establishing a dialogue is the trust of the person you're talking to. You have to raise interest for your service or product and come to a conclusion, which is some sort of a sales meeting.

Stick to the be lazy principle. It's a concept of triggering the business network to work for you. Ask the person who has the information, you only need to pose the right question. Also stick to the »It’s all easy« principle that says that you have to set a goal and then only look for the person who will get you there.

The importance of inspirational sales  

The inspirational sale is the only suitable sales tactic at a networking event. Don't be a door-to-door salesman. This is a sales tactic that inspires the person you're talking to; the optimal feeling you can trigger here is the feeling of not selling at all. It only works if it's authentic, you can't learn it. You have to mentally orient yourself beforehand. First listen to the person, find out what's really important to them. Then you can use two methods: the first one is that you talk about your goals with everyone or you don't say anything and look for the »hooks« you can »hang yourself« on. The workshop participants were able to see how to use both of these methods based on practical examples.
After Daniela, Brigita Lazar Lunder led the participants into the virtual world of networking. The participants found out why it's so important to have a good LinkedIn profile, namely one that sells.

As always, we continued in KIBLA, the place of Maribor's startup community

You can have a good idea, but it's the realization that counts. The founder – or the person who started the dream – cannot walk the entrepreneurship path alone. You need a good team for a truly successful startup company. And the former usually grows as company’s needs grow. We talked about how important it is to be surrounded by excellent and motivated people covering all key fields important for startup development.
We talked to Vlada Petrovič, co-founder and CTO at the Styrian-Bostonian Databox that recently got a 3.3 million USD investment
Even though their lives haven't changed much since then, he says that getting an investment doesn’t mean getting rid of your problems. Instead, ten new ones join them. They increased the team threefold, not only in Slovenia but also in Boston. They started working on improving organizational culture, which is different, the biggest difference he noticed being communication. The Slovenian team is very honest with each other, they also know how to have a »fight«, but they're still one big family at the end of the day. On the other hand, Americans are always very positive, »everything is great«, which makes it very difficult to identify possible problems. He emphasises how important it is that team members tell each other everything. 
Andraž Logar, CEO of 3fs, where they formed quite a few teams, told us that the key characteristic they're searching for is an »individual's maturity«. He says that Slovenians have quite a few problems with maturity, the »mama's boy« syndrome also reflecting in work. This is why they're trying to figure out the level of thinking, independence and responsibility of an individual even with help of psychologists. But the first condition is rudimentary knowledge of the profession, even though he admits that they've often invested into staff that had no clue. They even »bootstrapped« some members to the extent that one of them is today the CEO of Toshl, and they had given him a scholarship while he was still studying in France. He says that they don't employ only staff members with technical knowledge but also those from social sciences, the fields of philosophy, psychology, sociology and similar. He tells us that when choosing people from the IT sector, the biggest mistake you can make is falling in love with their knowledge. He believes that this only represents 50 percent of an individual's personality while the other 50 percent are maturity and responsibility, about which we have spoken. The mistake only becomes apparent after some time, but it can cause damage measured in hundred thousands of euros. 
Matevž Petek, best known for the Povio app, was forced to build a team twice in the past two years. He made the biggest mistake in choosing co-workers when he decided that he liked an individual right at the very beginning. Now, he takes from fourteen days to a month to make this decision, and he expects the individual to work on the project for free in the meantime. He says that a co-worker has to see him as an opportunity not as an Urban Lapajne, Venture Factory, business incubator of the University of Maribor, will talk to the startuppers.

You can see more about building teams in the video.
Author: Nataša Rus, 12.10.2015
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