People

Networking Unplugged: Try Something Different This Year

Welcome gateway to the 2016 International LCT Show at the Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, Nev., March 1 (LCT file photo)
Welcome gateway to the 2016 International LCT Show at the Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, Nev., March 1 (LCT file photo)
The BIG Show is coming soon to Las Vegas. Our theme this year is Embrace the New. It’s a nod to the future and to rethinking all we do — a subject we at LCT believe is timely given the shake-up of the status quo.

That being said, according to YOU, one of the primary reasons for investing in attending the International Limousine, Charter & Tour Show on March 13-15 is to “network.” At a recent team meeting, I asked my staff what that really looks like.

Seriously, I hear it all the time, “The networking was outstanding!” I see the masses; I hear the din of conversations all throughout the corridors of the Show, so I get that people are schmoozing.

I see this happen every year — the exact same thing — and I just have to wonder out loud what tangible results are coming your way. Are we actually doing it right, or do we just go with the flow and assume networking at the LCT Shows means a heck of a lot of business cards are swapped?

Networking loosely means making contacts. I know if I ask operators at the Show if they made contacts, I would hear YES. However, making contacts doesn’t necessary increase your client book or make you money. Shouldn’t that be the goal? Of course. So let’s change things up this year and try on some different ideas:

1. Build a press kit and take it to the Show: Include “reprints” of your print ads, client testimonials, copies of your insurance certificate, your LCTConnect.com profile (or a basic company story), news clippings of any press, awards, and accomplishments, a business card, and pictures of your fleet and staff (if you have a company brochure you can include that, too). Invest in pocket folders for all of your collateral that has your logo on the cover. Voila, you are official.

2. If you can cobble funds together to buy a general sponsorship, do it: The secret is you will be given the same SPONSOR ribbon to wear that the huge Show donors have. This will help you stand out against the 3,000 to 4,000 operators attending and is a good conversation piece. Plus sponsors get branding opportunities no one else gets. (Email me if you are interested or go to lctshow.com).

3. Pre-set appointments — even with my editorial team: Contact people on your “must meet” list. Even if an outreach to those people goes unanswered, it’s a great opener at the Show. Find them and say, “Hi! I sent you an email a few weeks ago as I was hoping to introduce myself to you at the Show.” Put it on your planner as a Show goal to meet as many on your TOP list as you can. Also, have another plan to meet 10 new faces a day who are not on your target list.

At the Show, time is of the essence with so much action. First and foremost, smile, look friendly, and say hello to people (don’t let me catch you nodding and looking like the Secret Service!)

Skip the small talk and ask a personal question, such as, “Where are you from?” Don’t start off talking about yourself! Find the “me toos” — establish a connection as soon as possible. Pay a unique compliment. As the saying goes, “People will forget what you do and forget what you say, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

Ask for an opinion, but be sure it’s something on point. You don’t want to throw a person off. Asking an opinion is an excellent way to engage. For example, “I am curious if you feel the TNCs in your market have had any real impact. Thoughts?” Be present. Don’t you hate it when you are talking and the other party is rubbernecking or checking a smartphone? It’s rude, so don’t do that to others.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but showing up early at a networking event is a much better strategy than arriving late. As a first attendee, you’ll notice the room is calmer and quieter — and people won’t have settled into groups yet. It’s easier to find other people who don’t have conversation partners yet.

Be sure to check out more networking tips in the extended online version of my column at LCTMag.com. Embrace the New this year by starting out at the Show with a resolve to being open to CHANGE at the most powerful networking event in the world. This is an important piece to your sales program. We wish you a wildly successful time in Las Vegas!

Related Topics: business growth, ILCT 2017, LCT Publisher, networking, public relations, Sara Eastwood-Richardson, tradeshow preparation

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