Top Tips for Networking at Meetings and Conferences
By Andie Weinman, CEO/President of Preferred Jewelers International™ and Continental Buying Group
I know we all go to multiple shows and events and networking is key!
Know Where to Place Yourself in the Room:
Conferences can be large and busy so it can be difficult to know where to place yourself to network. If there is a line to enjoy food or drinks – strike up a conversation. Introduce yourself at a standing cocktail table or sitting at a table for lunch. Remember, a prime opportunity is when you are in line for food or a drink. It is easier to strike up a conversation and easier to join in and or exit! Sitting at a table locks people into a longer chat. People often move out of the line and to a table to continue a chat or they have the option to move off in separate directions.
Put Your Coffee Cup on a Table:
If networking makes you nervous, arrive at the networking area early. Get a drink and if there are standing tables place your cup on the table. The visibility of a drink cup creates an environment for people to interact. It invites others to place their drink or cup down. Hopefully this creates a cluster of people interacting.
Join the Conversation:
Not always easy for people. But, if you are not shy, look around and find the “interactional circle” a circle of people who are already networking. Notice that when they talk, people arrange their bodies so they have equal access to everyone in the group. A good way to join the circle is to position yourself in the direct line of sight of the people with whom you would like to interact. They are then likely to realign the circle and welcome you in. The optimal size of an interactional circle is 3-4 people before people break off to even smaller groups.
It’s Not Just “Hello” That Starts A Conversation:
A great way to start a conversation in the networking space is to approach a table armed with a coffee cup or plate and ask, “Is it ok if I put my cup down here?” Once you get the go ahead, you can assess whether they want to talk more. They’ll indicate this by moving their body towards you and asking you something… or not.
Don’t Be A Mis-Greeter:
Do not (I hate this) say hello to someone and then look over their shoulder for the “more important” people in the room. (suppliers be aware) One effective thing to do is simply ask, “Where are you from?” This is one question all delegates and attendees have in common.
Networking Conversations Are Time Limited:
Just sayin’, sometimes you just want to leave the conversation early. One advantage of not knowing people at a conference is that you can invent a reason to leave a conversation and they will be none the wiser! But there are nice ways to exit a conversation. For example: “Do you know where the bathroom is?” and, “Who is our next speaker?” Social interaction is not easy. There is an overwhelming amount of networking information on the internet, but it is not always the best advice.
Do we know what the goal of networking truly is?
The goal is to have a friction-free, seamless, productive conversation that leaves your recipients with a good and memorable first impression and a basis for your future interaction.
We know from all of our Continental Buying Group and Preferred events, that when retailers attend conferences (shows) they tend to find the biggest “take away” is from the networking sessions and breakout periods. The showroom floor is not necessarily the only important content of the show.
I hope this helps you at any of our shows and future educational summits or any shows that you may attend. Never hesitate to reach out to any of us. We are always here for you for any and all help you may need.
Let’s stay together...
Your CBG and Preferred Jewelers International™ Team
Andie, Joe, Estelle, Laurie, Sophie, Danielle, AND wait,
if you haven’t met him yet, Elvis!