When part of your job is to network, do you approach networking events as strictly another business task, do you look at it as another waste of time exchanging cards with strangers that you’ll never see again, or do you look at it as a chance to make new friends? How many times do you find cards in your pockets or purse and wonder who or where did you meet this person?
Maybe you’re looking at it the wrong way. Network-ing is supposed to be fun. It’s a chance to meet new people, make new connections, build new and strengthen existing relationships, more often than not, in a social setting…I look at it as a chance to plant relationships.
ExhibitorLive has done a great job offering some fun ideas this week to get you started on the right track to network like a pro. I put together a shortlist of some of their fun options that you can participate in and a couple of impromptus that you should try out:
- Dinner with Strangers. I love this. It takes place every night from Sunday through Wednesday. The whole purpose of networking is to meet new people, so sign up on Level 3, meet at your designated time & go to the dinner. Bring lots of cards. Start a conversation to your left or right with an opening as simple as, “Hi I’m Lisa, what’s your name?” Ask them where they’re from and go from there…
- Welcome Reception. Monday 6:30-7:30pm. Go! It’s at “The Square” on Level One. It’s only an hour, so take advantage of it. If you’re solo, when you first enter, scan the room, find the bar and go straight to the bar line even if you don’t drink. They serve sodas. Don’t be afraid to strike a conversation with the person behind you, they’re also waiting for an opening. Here’s what I always say with a smile, “How’re you guys doing? I’m Lisa”. Ask questions about them, exchange cards. Always end with, “Nice meeting you, have fun tonight, say hi next time you see me”, and excuse yourself. Walk your way to the food line and strike up another conversation.
- Women in Exhibitions. Tuesday 8-10am at Border Grill. Go to booth #1955 for ticket info, but tickets are limited so don’t miss out. The breakfast meet and greet will provide an opportunity for you to discuss challenges and success strategies with other women in the industry. I’m very much looking forward to this event, hopefully, I get a ticket. If you see me, please say “Hi!” I love supporting my women peers.
- Exhibitor Party. This non-ExhibitorLive event is now a staple and takes place on Tuesday at 9pm, presented annually by Willwork Inc and Exhibit City News at Light nightclub in Mandalay Bay. A guaranteed fun night to let your hair down, relax and dance with your industry peers. Once you come in, make your way to the bar, grab a drink and head straight to the dance floor. Get close to the live band and DJ, and don’t be afraid to have a blast. Don’t worry, no one’s paying attention if you can dance or not. Just smile a lot and enjoy the music.
- Follow the Hashtag. Don’t forget to check #EXHIBITORLIVE on FB, IG, Twitter & LinkedIn a few times daily to see where the meet ups are. More than likely most people will end up at Eye Candy. This is the center bar at Mandalay Bay. Opens 5pm-1am every night. No cover, great drinks. At any given time this week before or after dinner, you will surely find attendees here. Make your way to the bar, pay attention to the badges and strike up a conversation. Start with a smile, your name, and a handshake. You’d be surprised how far that will take you. Just don’t forget to bring your cards!
Who said you can’t mix business with pleasure?
Entrepreneurially minded, service oriented, creative and agile, PLUS Studios is a place where the best of the old exhibit house system is combined with a new mentality and modern approach. PLUS Studios was founded in 2013 when a collective group of industry veterans decided to break the mold and do business differently. With our agility, insight, new thinking, and modern sensibilities, we have created the experience of a larger exhibit house; the PLUS Studios model was born! To learn more about Plus Studios, please go to www.Plus-Studios.com or contact us at 702-651-9611.
About the Author: Li Jackson is an 18 year veteran of the events & exhibits industry and is currently the VP of Marketing at Plus Studios, an experiential Events Exhibits and Environments company based in Las Vegas Nevada. She is also Founder of Tradeshowlife®️, an Online Educational & Media company and Executive Director at Rethink Worldwide a Non-Profit Organization focused on Conserving the Environment.