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You’re not alone if attending a conference or convention scares you a little bit—many of us dread the beaming fluorescent lights and buzzing crowds. Even if you tend to enjoy this scene, it can still be stressful and overwhelming. You naturally wonder: Am I getting my time’s worth in new connections? Am I showcasing my brand the way I imagined I would be? Luckily, there are plenty of ways to prepare so you can walk out at the end of the day with a full contact book and boosted confidence.

We’ve put together this 101 on convention and conference networking for distributors, a great place to start when you’re in the planning stages. Use this to build your conference or convention strategy and master your next networking event.

They’re All Human

It can sometimes be difficult to remember that all the new faces you’re bombarded with are human just like you. Sounds obvious, right? Sure it does—and yet plenty of people continue to treat every new interaction like it’s nothing but business. At the end of the day, everyone goes home exhausted and overstimulated from the day’s events. Remember this when you introduce yourself—they’re in the trenches with you, and some commonality and sympathy could make you (and them!) feel much more comfortable during the conversation.

Confidence Is Sexy

Confidence can make all the difference during an introductory conversation. You don’t need to over-do it to the point that your gestures and words are artificial and not you, but you should feel confident—in your brand, your products, and yourself. Confidence breeds trust. And trust is one of the many keys to a successful relationship, both in business and life in general.

Give Them a Chance

Not everyone bears a universal smile that reads “I’m nice, come talk to me!” Even so, in reality, most people are nice and conversational if you give them a chance. Don’t pass up on a conversation just because someone seems distant or shy. If you never open up the opportunity for conversation in the first place, you don’t give them a chance! Ask questions, make eye contact, and show an interest in what they have to say. Who knows? They could end up being your best connection of the day.

Utilize Social Media

With so much going on during the day, how can you keep up with social media and share your experience with your network? If you put in the effort, though, this can greatly increase your reach— especially if you tag new people that you’re networking with. Their connections will see your posts and may interact with you simply because you included someone they know. This also ensures that you leave a more memorable impression—a new contact may hop on social media later that evening, see your post, recall their experience with you, and keep you in mind for the future.

Branch Out—Get Uncomfortable

Don’t usually sit in the front row of an event? Like to stick with your colleagues? Take your next event as an opportunity (or challenge) to branch out of your comfort zone and see what new experiences you can find. Check out the speaker you’re most interested in seeing, and sit in the front row—even ask some questions! Wander around the event on your own for a while, and see what new experiences await—maybe you’ll run into the perfect group of people!

Have a Universal Opener

While we all hope that every conversation can go off without a hitch, not every introduction will go as smoothly as planned. This is a great opportunity to take your universal opener out of your back pocket and use it. This can be a variety of things—think of something that can help showcase you and your brand. For many it can be an easy, “Would you like a drink? I’d be happy to grab you something.” Or, “Did you hear that (speaker name)’s session is coming up soon? Will you be attending?” Anything that gets the gears moving and the conversation flowing is bound to ease the tension.

Final Thoughts

Networking is no cake walk. It takes confidence, stamina, and a few good lines to get the connections you’re hoping for. At the end of the day, you can be proud of the hard work you put into finding great connections for you and your brand. Trust us—all of it will pay off! 

Interested in learning more about Seaway Printing? Contact us today to learn more about our services as a trade printer and what we do for distributors like you every day.