Saturday, September 27, 2014

Conference Conversations - The Power of Hello

People attend conferences to learn, but they also show up to network.  However, once at an event too many spend all their time talking to co-workers or staring at their phones. Their intent is to make connections, yet few ever maximize their networking.

Making connections at an event should be simple, since the other attendees also want to meet other people. It sounds easy, but often people over-think the whole process.  Once you have said "Hello" to someone, and they have reciprocated, you now have the right to chit-chat.  A conversation can grow out of that one word.

Starting a conversation with a stranger is the first step to discovering if there is a path to a deeper relationship.  And it is not hard to meet others in these situations, as you are allowed to chat at conferences.  People expect it (they even desire it).

Most people who go to conferences, trade shows, conventions, seminars and other professional gatherings are there to make connections with others. Across all industry lines people cite "networking opportunities" as a primary reason for attending these events, however once they arrive... they stink at making any meaningful connections.

Help others meet you by being the one who initiates a conversation. Be approachable and smile at people. Once you have the chance, say "Hello", do so with a sincere interest in finding out more about the other person.

You will discover when at a multi-day event that the people you speak to early on will cross your path repetitively over the course of the ensuing days. These people will be in line for food, at a nearby Starbucks, and getting on or off the elevator. The first conversations you have with others once you arrive could create the groundwork for most of your social interactions at the event.

I call this "The Power of Hello". You will not have a strong connection with everyone you meet, but the more people you talk with, the higher the chance of encountering one or more with whom you will find common ground.

If you are shy, push yourself just a little to talk to two or three people at each break, happy hour, or meal (really shy?  ONE person per break!). Hiding in the corner will keep you from finding those "networking opportunities", and deprive others from knowing you.

Remember, you might be the person who can help others succeed. It is not just about you finding links to future success, you could provide a path for others to discover a major opportunity.  Why cheat others from your knowledge and network?

It all starts with "Hello".  Remember, you have permission to start a conversation while at a business event (as everyone present is there for the same reasons).  Go for it.

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

1 comment:

Patti DeNucci said...

Well, you KNOW I love this, Thom! It is really exciting to think about all the very cool, interesting, intelligent people I've met doing this. And being armed with a few intentions on what you want to learn, experience and even feel in these settings helps, as does arming yourself with 3 or 4 conversation-prompting questions helps too. Such as "What brought you here?" "Is this your first conference?" "Where you from?" "What are you hoping to learn or experience while you're here?" Great post!