5 Tips for Starting a Conversation at an Event

Starting a conversation at an event or trade show.

Starting conversations with strangers in professional settings can be nerve wracking. To overcome these feelings, it’s helpful to keep some pointers in mind when exhibiting at and attending a trade show. Therefore, you are less likely to be left feeling awkward and uncertain about what to say. Here are 5 tips for starting a conversation at an event.

  1. Normalize your feelings. Know that many people struggle in this area, and you are not alone. Your fellow attendees and exhibitors are just as eager to make connections and strike up conversations, so remember you are in a place where others have similar goals. When needed, give yourself a pep talk and take a colleague as a wing person for a boost of confidence. It’s okay to feel nervous as long as you don’t let it paralyze you.
     
  2. Ask questions. People usually like to talk about themselves, whether the topic is what they do professionally, where they are from, or their hobbies and passions. Therefore, asking questions is a great way to start a conversation. Remember to be friendly and open to everyone, and not judge people too quickly. You never know who will turn out to be a great and beneficial connection, or even a new buddy.
     
  3. Watch your body language. Considering your body language is important if you want to seem approachable. Sitting with your arms crossed sends the message you want to be left alone. Instead, having an open stance and smile welcomes others to start a conversation with you.. You don’t have to be an expert, but remain mindful of what your body language is conveying to others. Sometimes people have the reflex to take out their phones when they are sitting or standing somewhere and not talking to someone. Limit this reflex to remain open to connecting with the people around you.
     
  4. Stake out high traffic areas and set up appointments ahead of time. When you are in an area with more people, there is a better chance of starting a conversation with someone. These places may include the lobby or food court areas. You can also do the footwork in advance of the event, and book appointments with people you know you want to talk to while you are there. Events are the place you can see people you don’t often see face-to-face, so make sure to capitalize on the opportunity.
     
  5. Be yourself. Keeping these and other pointers in mind is helpful, but ultimately you will do best when you are yourself… at least, yourself in a professional manner. We are not all the same, which is a good thing. Be passionate, share your viewpoints, and relax a little. When you do, you welcome others to be themselves as well. Not every conversation will go perfectly and that’s okay, but putting yourself out there gives you the best chance for success.

Don’t forget to follow up with your new contacts. Whether you had an enjoyable conversation or found a potential client or vendor, following up after the event provides a higher chance of benefitting from the interaction.

Headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, Adler Display brings over 78 years of experience to its clients in need of recognition displays, lobby and corporate interiors, custom exhibits, historical timelines, trade show displays, and signage and graphics.  For more information about Adler Display, please visit our website at www.adlerdisplay.com or call us at: 855-552-3537.