Whether you’re running your own event, exhibiting at a trade show or attending a conference, your ultimate goal is information to help you and your business. You might want to grow your list of contacts, increase your knowledge or build your pipeline, but ultimately you need to talk and network with other people. For many, this can be a daunting prospect, so we’ve put together three tips to help you and your team get the information needed to reach your event goals.
Take charge of starting the conversation
If you find starting a business conversation with strangers a little daunting, then it’s a sure bet that you are not alone, so take charge and use tried and tested topics like a comment about the weather or the venue. Perhaps ask what they are hoping to get from the event. It’s tricky at trade shows, as delegates are a little nervous about being pounced on, which is when you use a “honeypot” to attract visitors to your stand. You can then ask these types of general questions to put them at ease before becoming more focused.
Bonus tip – never start a conversation by asking someone what they do for a living.
Take a sincere interest in the other person
People like to talk about themselves. Give them plenty of opportunity to do so and they will normally return the favour. Find something in common that you can comment on or ask further questions about – something they said that you found of interest. Be clear that you are not looking for a cue to launch into a long monologue about yourself or your business. You are taking a sincere interest in the other person. If you do this then they are more likely to take a sincere interest in you and what you do for a living. You just need to let them go first.
If you are really stuck for follow-on comments or question to ask then a really good one is to ask them how they got started in business.
Know when to move on
If you are a little nervous it may be tempting to plant yourself next to someone who has shown a little interest in you. It’s important to respect that the other person is there to meet people too and it would be better to have a shorter conversation and agree to meet again. If you think that you would like to talk to them further then invite them for coffee and ask for their card.
Sometimes you will meet people who you do not want to meet again. For example, they show no interest in you whatsoever or maybe show too much interest in trying to sell you something rather than get to know you. Use the same approach but miss out the invitation to meet for coffee!
The key to effective business networking is to find people where there is a mutual interest to meet again. I would also add that even if your new contact doesn’t seem on target, talking to them, swapping details and adding them to your database is important because people move jobs and go to other events. If they like you, they may very well become a fan and start recommending you to others.
If you would like support, help or advice about how to get the best results from your events, then contact Denise on +44 208 995 9495 or email email@example.com