trade show networkingIn true British style we will always talk about the weather; rain or shine people love complaining about it! Or, ‘I see you have a problem with your hair – I can recommend a good hairdresser who won’t make you look like a hedgehog”, could be a good one if you want to get your lights punched out.

But seriously,  there are so many dynamics involved it is difficult to articulate but here are basics I have always followed; not only at Trade Shows but as a basis for starting any conversation anywhere:

  1. CONFIDENT DIRECT APPROACH. Generally I find, at trade shows, people expect to be approached so it is not as difficult. I would generally always start a conversation by introducing myself politely yet confidently, offering a business card and ask for theirs, before I start with a lead question about THEIR business first. I also make sure there are no distractions around so I can guarantee at least 5-10 mins of their time.

  2. OBSERVE & QUESTION. I watch people and try to find some common ground. If I see someone with the latest phone or laptop, I will engage them in a conversation about their experience with it and maybe ask for their advice. People always like to feel their opinion is important and that will generally draw them into a conversation easily.

  3. PERSONAL APPROACH. Tapping into a person’s personal habits can be successful. For example, you may see someone with a packet of cigarettes or lighter so if you are a smoker yourself it would be easy to invite them to go for a ‘smoke’ or point out to them where the smoking room is in case they don’t know. The irony is that this ‘unsocial’ habit actually creates a very close knit community and smokers tend to gravitate to eachother easily.

  4. DISCUSS WORLD EVENTS. If there is a hot topic in the news it’s quite easy to start by commenting on that very casually; just make sure to remain very neutral depending on the sensitivity of the subject.

  5. OFFER HOSPITALITY. Offering someone a beverage is also a good way to go; you could say something like ‘I see you don’t have anything to drink, I am going to get a coffee for myself, may I bring you something?’.

  6. PROVIDE INFORMATION. If you are aware of an event taking place elsewhere at the event you can also start with something like ‘There is a ABC seminar at 4pm – do you think you might attend?’.

Ultimately, however the conversation is initiated you will get around to talking about your own products/services but I would rarely start it off that way which is why you will not see that suggestion above.