So, what great plans we had, Jillian Sherburne and I. We were looking forward to meeting up at a 2-day global oil and gas summit in London. Pink Petro was a media partner and so we had complementary passes. There were going to be around 200 movers and shakers to network with. Great!
So what do you do when you arrive at said conference and find a completely different reality? Because of the tube strike, it has taken you two and a half hours to arrive at your destination and there seem to be only around 20 delegates, many of whom are the speakers themselves. Also, you discover that the Pink Petro logo is missing from the promotional material. The well looked pretty dry!
Our choices were:
- Turn around and go home - it was tempting!
- Hang around until lunchtime and see if more people turn up.
- Concentrate on what content you can learn from the speakers.
- Relax and remember that until you get to speak to people on a more intimate basis you'll never know where the synergy is.
We opted for a combination of 3 and 4. Not straightaway - we cried, pulled our hair out and stamped our feet (in private of course) first. But the drinks reception at the end of the day beckoned and persuaded us to at least make it to the end of Day 1. And by then we were able to see the funny side of things and we laughed!
In all seriousness, once we focused on the importance of human connection rather than numbers the magic started to happen. We had great conversations with:
- An engineer who had recently left BP and was enthused about the idea of a safe community in which to make connections.
- The President of a technical consulting company in Tulsa with a particular interest in employing female engineers and who was intrigued about the cutting edge nature of Pink Petro.
- A UK project exec with the Environment Agency, educators at Coventry University and the CEO of a UK onshore oil & gas company.
The key to creating these conversations was to find out what was important to THEM. For example:
What brought you to this conference?
What resonated with you in the last talk?
How do you, as a CEO, hold onto good people?
How do you make sure people in your company keep up with this type of information?
How did you get here? (particularly relevant in this situation!)
The list is not exhaustive; the point is that we all love to talk about what is relevant to us. Once we have a chance to do that, and feel that someone is genuinely interested in what we have to say, we are much more likely to reciprocate and get curious about the other person.
And of course remember that getting stressed gets you nowhere and being relaxed is better for your brain and makes you more interesting to other people. As Pink Petro members we were always going to do the fun thing!
Of course we can't know exactly where our networking will lead, but it's looking promising.
What would you have done in this situation?