This week Hong Kong welcomes the second coming of the RISE conference. This mammoth multi-day event aims to bring the world’s biggest companies and Hong Kong’s most exciting start ups together for learning, networking and deal-making. With a huge program cutting across social, pitch sessions, workshops and panel discussions it pays to have a plan of attack to get the most out of the event. Here are my top tips for navigating RISE.
- Do the early networking
Networking at the beginning of a conference gives you a chance to let people know who you are and for you to start to know who’s who, who you want to follow up with later, and even those you want to avoid later in the conference. It can give you a chance to meet speakers before they’ve been on stage, when they are usually more under the radar of the general attendee. It can also help you find out what tracks are attracting the most interest, which future networking or social events are attracting the people you want to connect with. RISE-connected events started on Saturday with the WHub job fair and are continuing with networking from tonight that are available for entry to RISE pass holders. If you have a ticket, make an effort to drop by and start making connections!
- Plan your days
Attending a conference without having a plan of attack can be a bit of a waste of time. You’ve paid good money for your ticket so you want to make the most out of your attendence. RISE has a massive list of activities and several venues so you need to be organised. Before the conference itself begins make sure to review the program and take the time to write down, calendar or use the RISE APP to schedule sessions you want to attend – ditto for the networking events and make sure to include the location/address details. My advice for session selection is to just select everything you’re interested in, then prioritise. If you have clashes, you may want to move between sessions and it’s useful to know in advance what’s running concurrently if you decide halfway through a session it’s not for you. For some sessions or networking events there will be limited seating or tickets available. Make sure you are signed up to those you are interested in before the conference so you don’t miss out.
- Know why you’re going
It will help with your networking if you have a purpose in mind for your attendance. Tell people why you’re at the conference – to meet clients, look for investors, or to hear a special speaker. Whatever the reason, you can leverage that when talking with people to have them help you achieve it because even if they are not the right person for you, they may have met someone and can introduce you. Seek out those sessions and activities that resonate with your reason for attending and work the conference to your advantage.
- Take advantage of the speakers
The speakers have already agreed to make themselves and their advice available in a public forum. This means they anticipate questions and approaches from the audience and attendees. Some will have also signed up as mentors or workshop leaders so are actively looking to give back to the community. If you are attending a session with a superstar speaker or someone you don’t know but want to, I recommend two things. Firstly, get to the session early so you get a seat close to the front. Typically MC’s and hosts will choose questions from people within their direct line of sight, so the closer to the stage you are, the better. After the session it’s also much easier to approach a speaker who is coming off stage if you are close to them, rather than coming from the back of the room. Secondly, have a question ready before you walk in or jot something down during the talks that you think will engage the speaker. Use the opportunity to ask them directly, either from the audience or one-on-one. If you’re asking from the audience, always introduce yourself and your company before you ask the question. That way, they hear your name and so does everyone else in the room, instantly amplifying your recognition among attendees.
- Be a generous host
If you are a local and attending this conference you are bound to meet many attendees for whom this may be their first visit to Hong Kong. Have a go-to of suggestions for them, especially for bars, dinner and meeting locations. Most people won’t attend every planned event around the conference and will be looking to explore Hong Kong. If you are using the conference to connect with a particular type of attendee – investor, peer, potential employee or collaborator – you may even want to host drinks or dinner during the conference to bring together the people you meet over the course of the event. For those needing to get away and plug in for work, some of Hong Kong’s co-working spaces will be open to RISE attendees – let people know where they are and how to get there. Use the conference as an opportunity to help connect the international start up community with those working in and supporting start ups in Hong Kong.
RISE offers an enormous opportunity for connecting with the local and international start-up community and I hope my tips help you make the most of your experience. If you don’t have a ticket, don’t worry, you can still get involved. RISE has lots of activities planned away from the stage to give opportunities for people to connect and get engaged. Check out the community nights and networking events here.
by Stefanie Starlight Myers