3 Essential Networking Strategies for Conferences & Trade Shows
These proven networking strategies will help you build your confidence, build relationships and get better results at every conference, trade show and networking event you attend.
- Stretch Yourself.
At one of the first hotel conferences I attend in 2007, I reached across a very crowded, very hungry buffet line because I wanted to connect with the CEO of one of the top hotel brands. I stretched out my arm (and my confidence) and stated “Hi John. I wanted to say thank you. I’m new to the hospitality industry, and I learned a lot from your keynote speech this morning.” John was very gracious. He gave me his card, and told me to call him if I wanted more advice. I did, and he provided valuable suggestions and introductions. Some of the other people standing in line were impressed with my bold action – and with John’s reply – and they came over to meet me and offer their advice too.
- Attend Sessions to Learn and to Network.
When you attend the educational sessions, make them count. Don’t just grab a seat, bury your head in your phone and leave immediately after the Q&A. Engage with the people sitting near you. One of my clients landed a wonderful new job because she took the initiative to talk to the stranger sitting beside her. She commented on one of the panel topics, he commented back, and they continued the conversation over lunch. He interviewed and hired her within a few months. Now she’s a speaker at that same conference, presenting on innovations in retail marketing.
- Make Small Talk Meaningful
It’s a big mistake to dismiss ‘small talk’ as insignificant conversation. When you ask the right questions, and bring up the right topics, small talk will reveal valuable information and insight about the person you’re with. So while it’s okay to break the ice by complaining about the freezing rain, you need to get past the weather and bring substance to your conversations. To do this, ask questions to learn about the someone’s experience, expertise and interests. Then share something about yourself, both personally and professionally. For example, when Megan says that she just started her new position at a real estate development firm a few months ago, take that opportunity to ask what her previous job was, how she landed the new position, or what her goals are for her firm’s hotel division. Then you can compare notes on how you landed your job at a leading design firm, or share why you decided to start your own consulting business, or discuss trends in sustainable real estate development. Whatever your industry, background or personality, you will be able to create big opportunities when you pay attention and ask meaningful questions. (and always remember that smallest things can be the most powerful).
If you want to improve your confidence and your networking skills, and kick ass and take names at your next industry event, hire Fireball Network.
Our services include networking and conference coaching, business development consulting, and wingman/wingwoman services.
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