My seven takeaways from Nordic Business Forum

After spending the first – quite interesting and also somewhat hectic – day in Nordic Business Forum, it is a good time to sit back, reflect the learnings and share them. So, do enjoy my seven tips to Nordic Business Forum.

1. Use Brella actively

The conference uses Brella ( app for all informative and social needs inside the event. Using the app actively is a gateway to heaven, especially if you want to meet new people to discuss various topics. Sign up early, set up your profile – don’t forget a good picture of yourself – and start browsing other people. Prepare to huge number of people, this will take time. I personally bookmarked everyone that was interesting to me and then browsed those bookmarks from time to time to suggest meetings.

2. Nurture meeting requests

Talking of meetings, people have a habit of ghosting in Brella. Chances are, unfortunately, too high that you will never get a reply from some contact requests. I got a few incoming ones and politely declined those that I felt not relevant and asked the more relevant to get in touch after the event or directed them to someone else in our organization.

If someone did not answer to my contact request in a few days, I informed them – again, politely – that I’m going to free the slot from both of us and then proposed a new meeting with someone else. There are only a few slots available and a request books it from both the sender and the recipient, so schedule is blocked very easily. After my networking slots were full, I approached a few people directly with email and got a couple of extra meetings during lunch and breakfast hours.

3. Have a compelling and short story

If your meeting request does not resonate well, then people will either decline or ghost the request. Fortunately for me, our company’s promise of digital growth is in line with this year’s theme – growth –and I packed the pitch into small number of letters for Slush in late 2018. It was easy to distill and sharpen it further for this event.

A short and sweet story helps also in the meetings. You have fifteen minutes, and both parties need to introduce themselves, talk about their companies, and so forth. So, there is like five minutes to make your case and agree the next steps.

4. Do your homework

When meeting new people, being knowledgeable about their company and the industry is pure gold. Thus, you need to prepare well. Of course, if you are focusing only on a certain industry, this comes naturally. Our solutions on digital marketing platforms and digital service channels fit to almost any industry, so I needed to prepare myself a bit. Being around for the past twenty years or so in digital and web has given expertise from various industries and the basic human behaviour does not change, so I didn’t have to spend enormous times understanding businesses discussed in my meetings.

Besides, we always start by understanding the end user needs, their situation in life, and so forth, so asking questions about the business and the users is always a good way to break the ice. Everyone loves to converse about their topics.

5. Give time for chance encounters

There are a lot of friends and acquaintances in the audience, so I tried to keep my schedule relaxed enough to be able to stroll around and keep my eyes off from my smartphone. Spending time with that tiny device is always so compelling, but looking around is actually the only way to see the people near you.

In Slush last year, a couple of my best meetings were actually on hallways when I bumped into someone I knew. Here in Nordic Business Forum, it is a bit harder, as the programme is packed full. Opening conversations with your neighbours when you sit down is basic courtesy and sometimes it can lead to interesting discussions and even commercial proposition.

6. Come fully charged

The days are long, so better come here relaxed. I actually went to bed at nine PM previous night – just to woke up at six AM for morning ice hockey training – so I felt really good the whole day. I was surprised how little I walked during the day, mere 7810 steps including also walking back and forth the train station. My Slush count last year was at least double. So, this is not a physical exercise, but a mental one.

Further, have your devices charged, too. As the program is densely packed, there is not that much time to charge the devices and the absence of charging stations is actually striking – hopefully someone from the Nordic Business Forum organisation reads this and rectifies the situation next year. And yes, I know that there are charging possibilities in Framery meeting pods, but they were always occupied.

7. Enjoy the talks

The event brings world class speakers to Helsinki, so dive into the topics and ideas presented. Some of them are applicable to your business, and some can be archived to further study when your business has evolved.

Thoughts by

Janne Kalliola

Chief Growth Officer


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