If you’re a newbie to The Event Planner Expo in NYC, one of the first things you’ll notice is how different it is from your everyday regular trade show. At most trade shows, you pretty much know who you’ll be bumping into, and what is expected in the way of conversation or a meeting.
At The Event Planner Expo, people who you don’t know will come up and introduce themselves, and you are expected to do the same. While this comes naturally for some, for others it’s an effort, like public speaking.
While walking up to an exhibitor’s booth and asking them what they do is just one part of meeting new people at The Event Planner Expo, the best networking opportunities come when you strike up a conversation with someone in the VIP Lounge, Networking Lounge, or even just in the foyer. The tricky part is figuring out how exactly to approach someone.
So how do we break the ice at The Event Planner Expo? Here are a few tips:
- Everyone is from somewhere. “I don’t believe I saw you here last year, where are you from?” Everyone loves to talk about their hometown, and if you’ve been there, you can find immediate common ground, which is what this is all about. Once they sense you are interested in their city, state or country, they’ll be much more conversant.
- Sports. Corny as it may seem, almost everyone can conduct a sporting conversation these days and as long as you keep it light, you don’t have to worry about saying something wrong. This is just another form of finding out what the person is interested in and talking about it.
- Compliment them. “Excuse me, but that’s the coolest modular booth display I’ve ever seen. Do you mind me asking where you got it?” After they get done telling you, you can extend your hand. Most people will merely require that you show some interest in them to start a conversation.
- If you’re standing in line for a latte, you can offer an observation to a stranger. “Does the expo seem larger this year, or am I imagining it?” If they answer, you now have a conversation about the show, your mutually shared experience.
- It’s probably best to stay away from personal stuff, like family, relationships, children, religion, or politics. That’s why we have sports. While your opener might seem forced or unnatural to you, don’t forget, the other person is on the same boat as you and will most likely take whatever you say as an invitation to talk. If you’re the type of individual who chats up waiters, bartenders, or janitors, so much the better. The idea is to leave the expo “all talked out.”