My tips from VivaTech, on prospecting & networking for introverts

networking for introverts

networking for introverts

Yesterday was Day 1 of VivaTech, where I’m at this entire week.

It’s the biggest tech event in Europe, that almost rivals CES (the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas). 

All the French politicians are here (of course…), but so are big names like Elon Musk, Venus & Serena Williams, the former CEO of Google, and more. 

There are also 350 companies and 11,000 startups (yes, eleven thousand!) present. 

And then there’s me, here on a double mission: 

  1. To find impressive European companies & entrepreneurs already in the US market, to invite them as a guest on The American Market Alchemist podcast
  2. To identify excellent European entrepreneurs & startups who want to scale their impact in the US market, and discuss how I can help them with that

You can imagine that trying to find those 2 profiles among 11,000 startups is a bit like trying to find a needle in a haystack, as we say in English. 

So that means I have to get out there and talk to people. A LOT of people. 

But here’s the thing… 

I’m naturally a shy person and I like my quiet time. 

So talking to strangers to pitch myself in a sort of “business Disneyworld” is not something that is super comfortable for me!

But it’s part of my job as the founder of my company, so… you go out and just do it!

So how do you approach strangers to try to find out in 90 seconds if you might be able to do business together, when you’re not naturally comfortable doing that?

Tips for networking when you’re shy & introverted like me

Here are my tips from the trenches of VivaTech, for networking & prospecting when you’re shy & introverted, but you know you have to do it:

  1. Embrace the discomfort! 

Despite appearances, these kinds of conversations are a little awkward for a lot of people. You’re probably not the only person who feels a little awkward.

  1. Remember: People come to events specifically to meet other people.
    They expect to strike up conversations with strangers. They may even welcome that YOU took the initiative. I find that it’s easy to break the ice with a question that helps you identify if the person is a potential lead.

For example, I ask “Are you in the American market?”
“Yes” = potential podcast guest.
“Not yet” or “We’re working on it” = potential lead. 

“No, it’s not a priority” = opportunity to learn why not, to better understand what objections companies have to going into the US. I can use that information for content on LinkedIn! 

  1. Prepare a social pitch and a few “client success stories”
    You want to be able to say what you do in an attractive way, in just a few sentences. You also want to be able to show how you do that, in short stories about past clients that you successfully helped.  It’ll be much clearer for people to understand what you do and if there’s a business opportunity, and you’ll be more memorable. 

For example, I answer “What do you do?” with something like this:
“I help European startups transform their communication–especially their pitch & value proposition–to get American clients & investors more easily. Here in Europe, we have excellent innovation and technological development that can change the world for the better. And in the US, we have a huge market and bigger funds, where they can scale their impact to a higher level. My goal is to make that possible, by “Americanizing” their communication, to succeed on the US market.”

I even have it noted (in English and in French) in my Notes app on my phone, in case I need to remind myself of key words and ideas. vivatech pitch

(You can see that what I actually say is a bit different from the original notes I made for myself in my app… I’ll explain why in point 4!)

As the conversation develops, I might tell them how we coached 2 scientific / engineer people from a semiconductor company in France, and how it allowed them to 5x the production of their sales videos for the US market, and increase their US sales in consequence. Just by coaching them on how to pitch & present their products in videos! 

  1. Note how people react to your pitch.

Is there a word or argument that grabs their attention? Note it! Then tweak your pitch as you go. Your best feedback comes from the field. 

Below are notes from a conversation I had with a guy that will most likely become a client.  After I told him what I do, we talked about how I might be able to help him.

In that conversation, he gave me a lot of insights as to what in my pitch caught his attention, and some phrases I can use in my future pitches (because using the EXACT words of your prospects is always a good idea!) 

So after we finished our conversation, I took a quiet moment to make some notes to help me tweak my pitch. 

For example, he said:  “We have problems failing the ‘mom test’” 

(i.e. Being able to explain your super technical concept in a way your mom understands). I want to test this phrase out in my pitch at Day 2 of VivaTech! 

He also said “You said a key word there: ‘Communication.’ We’re not good at communicating simply what we do.” (So I added that more into my pitch already, as you saw above!) 

notes from the field

  1. Not all conversations lead to something.

Sometimes, you get into a conversation and it’s clear you have no mutual business interests. That’s OK. But how do you politely and gracefully exit a conversation that will go nowhere?

Simply wait for a natural moment in the conversation, like after you finish discussing a certain topic, and wish them well. You can say something like “Well, it was nice talking to you and learning about your products. Best of luck in the development and enjoy the rest of the event.”

Gracefully exiting a conversation can feel very awkward because you feel like you’re saying “You’re not interesting to me.” But in reality, they’re probably happy that you knew how to end the discussion, once you both realize that there’s no business reason to continue the conversation. 

This way, no one’s time is wasted. 

Bonus tip:

Take time out to make notes about the people you meet & an action step for after the event.

I got 23 business cards from interesting contacts, and if I hadn’t taken little breaks throughout the day to note who, what, and why for each one, I’d have no clue why some of them were interesting 

Despite your best efforts, at the end of big events like VivaTech, your brain is total mush by the end of the day!

If you’re at VivaTech, DM me on LinkedIn and let me know! Maybe we can meet up in all the chaos! 

See you next Thursday… if I survive the week! 😉


Do you have a prospection problem when it comes to getting American clients for your business?
Book an audit with me and I’m sure that in just one hour, we can make big changes to your business strategy, just like with the examples in today’s newsletter.

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