Five Hacks To Get you to the Next Level at High-End Networking Events
Kicking off your heels and tossing a handful of low-level employees’ business cards after yet another fruitless networking event is no fun; I’ve been there plenty of times! Fortunately, there are those that have mastered the art of networking who can give us valuable insight. Frustrated with my own experiences, I decided to ask an expert on how an affluent working woman can take her networking skills to the next level. According to Mark Gold, there are 5 golden rules to becoming a super connector. Gold, the Chief Marketing Officer at TOTO Global Ventures (the global division of TOTO IMAGES) and serial super connector has over ten years of experience in developing and networking at high-end events. His personal business contacts include Vice Presidents from Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch. He regularly rubs elbows with C-level executives and international decision makers. In the last 3 months alone, Gold has networked his way into a working relationship with foreign government agencies in Israel and China.
Aside from networking, Gold gives us a peak into the mind of an event organizer. Gold’s most recent event projects include the Smart Marketer Summit, in association with Wix.com, the 13th annual Russian Heritage Month, in association with New York Post, WMC Shangahi’s Digital Health Summit in association with China Connected Health Alliance and the illustrious Marketing Week NYC, in association with Manhattan Chamber of Commerce.
This week Gold is attending high-end events where he will meet executives from Microsoft, Uber, AirBnb, Ogilvy & Mather, Crain’s Business, Forbes and many more. He suggests everyone uses Marketing Week as a launch pad and extends invitations to any affluent individual looking to get ahead!
Gold’s decade of expertise in developing high-end events and networking with high profile individuals makes him an expert on “growth hacking” through networking.
Thanks to just one networking event last month, he acquired prime venue space on Wall St, set up the CEO of his company to be a key-note speaker at an international Investor Summit, received a full sponsorship for a private event at the Trump Hotel Rooftop, and a free corporate photo shoot (a value of $15,000). Gold’s super connector strategies really work! His five golden rules can get you free VIP access to high-end events, direct you straight to the most influential individuals, and give you a strategy for how to best leverage these new connections to get ahead!
5 Rules To Hacking Networking Events: Interview with “Super Connector” Mark Gold
1. Use Leverage To Break Through
Question: How does someone identify and attend high-profile events on a working budget?
Mark: You must leverage to break through. For example, I called the organizer of a private event for Venture Capitalists called “Series A Demo Day”, and asked him for 2 complimentary VIP tickets, a value of $300, so I could bring a Chinese VC and introduce him to the Start-Ups. I used my Chinese contact as leverage to receive free admission, and used my free admission as leverage to develop my relationship with the Chinese VC. Since then, all three of us have developed a working business relationship and I’ve met some high-ranking officials who have also opened international doors for me.
2. Choose Quality over Quantity
Question: How do you identify high-profile individuals at networking events?
Mark: Look for the people who don’t need to impress anyone. They usually hide their nametags and engage in small talk around the food and drinks area. They typically are very serious and sometimes don’t have inviting smiles. Be a go-getter, and aim for quality! It’s better to connect with 1 decision-maker than 100 low-level associates.
3. Be Vague, Yet Knowledgeable
Question: How do you attract and impress high-profile individuals at these events?
Mark: To attract a high-profile individual, I act like one. I’m usually very calm and exert the vibe of a serious businessman. I don’t walk around laughing and attracting attention to myself. During a conversation, it’s best to be vague, yet knowledgeable. You can discuss current events, high profile cases, and big brands you are working with, all while being vague. Impress with short bursts of insight and don’t be too impressed with yourself. Don’t look for reactions; just say it like it’s no big deal and immediately ask about them: “I’m hosting an event at Microsoft next week with Uber, what do you do?” Make sure it’s true and when asked about the details of your projects, reveal insight into industry issues and not the actual work. Leave them wanting more.
4. Stop Pitching, Start Building
Question: What’s your mindset at these events and what should the mindset be?
Mark: If you want a home run, stop pitching! First off, you need to shift your mindset. You’re not there to get a sale, you’re there to develop an authentic long-lasting relationship based on your ability to produce value for the decision-maker! Think about it, people constantly, everyday, ask for favors from important people. That’s why I don’t ask for favors, I give favors right off the bat, and it lets people know that I know how to play the game. So, people need to stop pitching at these events and start building long-term relationships by developing the habit of giving!
5. It’s All About Giving
Question: How do you follow up post event and stay relevant?
Mark: You should e-mail the contacts either the next day or within a week – depending on your availability. You should make the subject line of your email say “Follow Up from XYZ event” and use Hub Spot’s Sidekick to see if they opened it. The content in the email should be minimal. Reference the event, get through the pleasantries, and extend your digital hand by offering an invite to another VIP event or something that you think may interest them. Do your homework on their industry, their company and see if your invite aligns with their current strategy. The closer you hit home, the more valuable you’ll be. The bottom line is: high-profile individuals (CEOs, Presidents, Directors, etc.) need to see value in you, so you must give and nurture before you can ask for anything in return.