What you need to know about conferences and exhibitions
Networking is an essential part of running a business in most areas. While it can be a fun process, if you’re an introvert, it’s unlikely that you see conferences and exhibitions as places where you’ll thrive.
In many cases, however, you can make networking a far more manageable and even enjoyable experience with some careful preparation. From setting goals to getting some support, here’s what you need to know.
Be clear on your goals
Attending a networking event as an introvert can seem especially overwhelming if you’re not super clear on why you’re there. By setting some clear, achievable goals like meeting with a certain number of people or handing out a certain number of business cards, you can focus on something specific rather than focusing on your nerves.
If you’re worried about what you’ll say to people, then it’s a great idea to practice beforehand. Go over your talking points, and then practice with a colleague, asking for constructive feedback. If you’re nervous, you may find that you need to focus on things such as talking slightly slower or maintaining eye contact, to build up a rapport.
Let your exhibition stand do the talking
While you obviously need to interact in person to a certain level, you can make it a lot easier if you have a well-designed exhibition stand. Companies such as Focal Exhibitions specialise in creating stands that perfectly capture your brand, providing you with an optimised environment in which you can talk about what your business offers. As an introvert, you may find that this makes it a lot easier to get into the groove of talking about what you’re there to talk about.
Take breaks and share the load
It’s generally best to go to these kinds of networking events as a team. If you find that you’re especially introverted, then you’ll want to try to make sure that some of the other people attending the event with you are more on the extroverted side.
Going as part of a team means that you can share the load a little, and it also means that some of you can go and take a quick coffee break to recharge while the others take over. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’ll likely find that spending just 10 minutes somewhere nice and quiet will make you feel a lot better.
Remember you all have lots in common
Finally, it’s important to keep in mind that all of the attendees are there for a reason – you all have a common interest, you just need to identify that common thread and then the conversation should flow. It’s not like striking up a conversation with someone on a train or a plane, everyone at the event will be in attendance because they’re interested in that niche, which can make finding a connection feel a lot less daunting.
Attending these kinds of networking events is something that does get easier as time goes on. Try to keep this in mind, learning from what went well the previous time and then building on those positive experiences.