Although these are elementary solutions, they can be intimidating adjustments. Now, in clear view of the audience traffic, you will have no choice but to be a social butterfly and at that, a social butterfly who really knows their stuff. At first, it’s a vulnerable position; however, taking the leap forward is crucial to cultivating connections.
You’ve opened yourself up, and people are coming your way, ready to chat, so now what?
A common misconception about creating conversation with people on the trade show floor derives from what may seem to be the most second-nature element; how to start it. Beyond the quick “Hello, my name is … ” introduction, how does one draw in the interest and attention of the average attendee? Many folks will have their elevator pitch and numbers ready to go at any given moment. However, the best way to make a lasting business relationship doesn’t have to do with business at all. In fact, a hard sales pitch right off the bat can steer people away. Many of these guests spend their days answering emails and calls between informative speaking sessions and crave a moment of levity rather than another course about the industry. That’s where you come in.
How can you be that source of levity and get their business? It’s all about paying attention to details and finding commonalities.
Finding something in common with a stranger beyond the known fact that you’re in the same industry can be quite a challenge, so paying attention to the minute details about the person before you is imperative. For example, it’s extremely common for folks to highlight their hobbies and interests on objects as obvious as a lapel, a design on their bag, or even their phone case.
A Longhorns lapel: “I see your lapel. Are you from Texas?”
A Mickey Mouse tote: “I love that bag. Do you go to Disney World often?”
A dog on their phone case: “Now, that’s a cute dog. Are they yours?”
If the person before you shows no telltale signs of their interests, it’s time to break out the golden question: “Where are you from?” This question opens a whole new level of conversational possibilities because it can tell you so much about the person in front of you: their sports teams, their weather, and the major monuments around them. Or, if you don’t know much about that area — ask them about it! What would they recommend you do the next time to visit? Where can you get a good burger? Not to mention, as you continue to travel, you’ll learn more landmarks to reference. From speakeasies in Vegas to the terrific restaurants in Miami, keeping these notable places in mind are perfect conversation pieces for the fellow traveling salesperson.
These small but impactful instances of paying attention will not only get the conversation flowing but will display that you are thoughtful and attentive — two qualities that are invaluable in a business connection. No matter what the subject, it should feel organic coming from you. If you’re enjoying the banter, chances are they’re enjoying it as well.