6 Tips for Trade Show Networking

trade show networking

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.


Carol (Caz) Cooney, Associate Regional Manager at iVEDiX, has been living in the United Arab Emirates so long we think she's forgotten she's actually English. After 23 years of living in the region, Carol has gained a wealth of knowledge and cultural awareness of the region, along with a strong network of business connections. As an avid off-roader, her fiercely competitive streak is second only to her uniquely personable and exotic personality.

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