The most dreaded yet most anticipated season of the year is fast approaching: the time when darkness falls, slush covers the streets and Slush lights up the startup world. The countdown has started as it’s less than a month until the biggest startup event in the Nordics. In the next few weeks every conversation will somehow lead up to your plans for Slush, you will be bombarded by invitations to side events, community meetups and meeting requests. With the whole of Helsinki being in an ecstatic state, we’d like to offer you some guidance on how to make the most out of the upcoming month of preparation to reach your ultimate goal of success at Slush itself.

No ticket? Don’t let it stop you. There’s plenty of pre-events to look for

At this point, it doesn’t matter if you will be attending Slush itself. As every ecosystem player is highly focused on helping startups succeed during this period, you will find plenty of events to attend that you can benefit from in the long run – even if you can’t make it to the real deal this year. The sheer fact that an event of such scale is held in Helsinki has the potential to help you reach your goal – and it’s your responsibility to seize these opportunities by taking action. Look for pre-events, talks and workshops to elevate your game.

Plan, plan & plan. Then execute

Let’s kick off with the science of planning. Hacking a conference only works if you have clear goals, meaning you need to have a plan in place. And the sooner you have clarity, the sooner you can start looking for workshops and networking events that will serve your purpose the best. Now is the time to gather your team, sit down with your co-founders, ask for advice from your board and discuss these plans. A week before the event is too late for this, if you take our advice and start right now, you’ll have the competitive edge.

Are you looking for some media coverage? Are you seeking new team members or collaborations? A next round of fundraising is on the horizon? Are you an individual seeking new challenges and a team to join? In any case, you need to translate these goals into actionable steps.

Create a timeline

Your most limited resource during a conference is your time – and the same goes to the phase of preparation. You don’t want to be everywhere, you want to be where you need to be. And be there, no matter what – makes sense? Give yourself this couple of weeks to gather your thoughts, assess your resources, filter through the overwhelming amount of events and pick the right ones for you. Be efficient: do your homework, and be truly present at the workshops and events you end up attending. Who knows, your big opportunity might be just around the corner at one of these side events, not at the big gathering itself.

Be honest with yourself: know what you need to improve

Long gone the times when an average pitch could get you anywhere near success. And I don’t just mean pitching competitions that are actually designed for rockstars, but initiating conversation about your business in any situation. 

Investors are tired of being pitched all the time, media representatives have tons of interesting stories to hear, and people in general are getting harder to approach at such a huge event. In order not to get lost in the crowd, you’ll need to craft a story that stands out and most importantly, you’ll need to be able to tell it. Fine tune your messages, clearly tailor them to different situations and work on your networking skills, so you’ll also be able to get your messages through at the right time. 

Just as an example: imagine how the other person (who happens to be an investor) would feel if you approached them and without asking any questions, you’d just start blurting out who you are and ask a complete stranger for money. Because if you never created any human connection, they remain a stranger with no trust towards you as person. And then how can you expect them to trust your company with their money?

Train for success

Once you’ve assessed your and your team’s capabilities and identified your weaknesses or areas in dire need of improvement, it’s time to do something about it. Whether you are looking to boost your pitching skills, want to level up your networking, the best is participate in hands-on workshops where you can learn by listening to real-life experiences and have the chance to ask and try out things for yourself.

Here are some events to help you prepare:

Our very own Jochen Faugel, Head of Consulting at ArcticStartup is hosting one of the first Slush prep events: Turn your next visit into a full success. During this hands-on workshop, we will work on how to prepare for Slush, how to reach your individual target group, how to tell your story and pitch your company, network effectively and will cover the do’s and don’ts. The workshop is held at Epicenter Helsinki on 29th October – make sure you register to secure your spot and get a headstart. If you can’t make it to this one, there are plenty of other events popping up as Slush approaches, so keep your eyes open.

Wanna see how the next generation of public speakers do on stage? Visit the Talk the Talk show on 12 November. Watch out for techniques to learn, as the speakers on stage are coached by top-notch experts. Maybe you even get inspired to apply next year and rock the stage yourself.

Talent Heist during Slush at The Shortcut will help you unleash your skills at a high-growth startup by getting together talented community of internationals and locals while making an impact on the future of the tech industry. Talent Heist is a 3-day journey that gives you opportunities to showcase your abilities, build relationships with the company you want to work with, and experience the vibrant atmosphere of Helsinki’s startup community.

And you can find the list of Slush Side Events here, taking place the week leading up to Slush. Some will require a ticket and for others you can register for free.

We’ll be back for a second chapter, focusing on how to navigate through Slush itself with maximum efficiency. Stay tuned!