As Theresa and I walked the floor of the National Restaurant
Association Show, I struggled to find the exhibitor that would pop out at me
and say – “AH, you want to write your first blog about me.” Well, my networking radar popped up and got
the better of me. Gravitating towards
what I know best I
couldn’t keep my eyes off everyone around me.
Watching how they interacted with each other or didn’t
interact for that matter kept me busy the whole day. Some were engaging and drew me in, others
turned me off and some of them even made me giggle. So whether you are at a booth at one of the
largest expos in the country or at a cocktail party meeting potential clients,
or maybe a new guy (girl) these lessons can be used. Here’s who I saw and what I learned:
Mr. Happy Personality
We walked past XX both and heard a friendly voice say,
“Hi ladies, you have to try this, it’s great!”
Great? Sure, why not stop? We
ended up trying fantastic Sun Dried tomato brochette, which by the way, was
great. From there, he sucked us into
trying the tortellini in a delicious sun dried tomato sauce and before you know
it I was ready to dash to the internet to order some for home delivery!! The conversation was natural and really
flowed nicely. He asked us about
ourselves and really seemed interested in learning more.
Lessons Learned: Be friendly; ask people about themselves and
it never hurts to have a conversation starter.
The Hyper Maniac
One of the exhibitors had a huge buzz and a ton of people
standing around. It was getting a lot of
attention and we ran over to see what all of the fuss was about. They had a huge vat of vegetables and there
was a large group of people stirring them with jumbo spoons. We thought, “Cool, veggies in a vat!!” We started to walk away when someone on the
edge of the excitement threw a flyer in our hands and then moved on. I’m sure not sure what company this was from,
something about healthy Chinese food, which in theory is great, but no one took
the time to talk with us.
Lessons Learned: You don’t always need a dog and pony show to
get people to get people to listen. Sometimes
it’s quality, not quantity. Don’t just throw a business card into someone’s
hand. Take the time to look them in the
eyes, smile and find out what they are all about. If it seems like a good fit, exchange
Yep, that’s right.
Sitting on a stool at a booth for one of the biggest companies around,
was a guy that would do Ferris Bueller proud.
He sat slumped on a stool and looked out into space. I even went into the booth, picked up a flyer
and said, “Hi!” in the perkiest tone I
could muster without cracking up!
There was another booth where everyone had their backs
turned to the back of the room. I
really don’t think there’s much more I need to say about that one.
Lessons Learned: Be friendly, and approachable. If you have your back to people, you have no
idea of what you might be missing.
A trade show, as is any chance to connect with people face
to face, is invaluable today in this age of electronic communications. Online Social Media is a great way to meet
someone or stay connected but relationship building often times happens most
effectively in person. Open your eyes
and you’ll see that everyone out there has in interesting story and is itching
to tell it. You might not connect with
everyone you meet, but if you don’t even shake their hand and give it a
try, you’ll never know.
About Hope Bertram
Windy City Social Founder, Hope Bertram, is from the
Chicagoland area. She holds a Masters in Integrated Marketing Communications
University and has worked
as a Direct / Interactive Marketer at top companies such as GE Consumer Finance,
Discover Card and Sears Holdings.
She has a passion for networking and is happiest when she’s
making introductions and connecting people.
She came into the Social Media Scene in March, 2008 and has taken Chicago by storm,
building a thriving social networking business using new Social Media tools
along with other tried and true channels.
Her solid Marketing background, coupled with her strong local ties and
friendships, allow her to powerfully promote Windy City Social events to a
high-end demographic, consistently drawing an attractive audience.