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Why Working the Room Doesn’t Work

There’s some old unwritten rule (and possibly written too) that claims in order to make good connections, you have to work the room. But there are a lot of problems with that mentality. If you’re about to attend your first trade show, here’s why you should reconsider trying to work the whole room.

The Insincerity of It All

The goal of working the room is to find out about as many people as you possibly can in a short period of time. How can you do that? By asking questions. Lots of questions. But, more to that point, asking questions that have a direct goal and aim.

Questions like these:

– What do you do?

– Can we work together?

– Can I have a card?

After barely listening to the answers, the next goal is to grab the card and run to the next person. This might seem like a fine game to play, but here’s what the other person is thinking while you’re asking your questions:

– Seriously? He’s leading off with the “what do you do” question?

– Sure, you spent five minutes talking to me – why would I bother?

– You can have a card, but I probably won’t remember you by the time you call.

As you can see, this strategy really doesn’t work that well. So, what’s a better way to network?

Learning the Art of Sincerity

Believe it or not, it’s a lot hard to speak to half of the room in an evening than it is to speak to the entire room. In order to stick in someone’s mind, you have to be truly sincere.

Here are some tips:

– Find out what makes a person laugh, what they like to do for hobbies, and basic stuff like where they were born.

– Do not speak about what they do for a living unless they bring it up first.

– Make eye contact, and do not let your eyes dart around the room when you are speaking with someone.

-Spend at least fifteen minutes talking to the person you’ve just met.

– Try and find a commonality, but don’t force it.

– Say something nice about what they are wearing, what they do, or how they are – anything that they will remember.

We’ve become so accustomed to not paying attention (or having really short attention spans) that it’s easy not to listen to someone that’s directly in front of you. The art of sincerity really does take a lot of practice, but you will find that these tactics are a lot better than simply trying to work the room.

At Your Trade Show Booth

Even if you are behind a portable display or other display, you should still try to be as sincere as possible. When a client approaches that portable display, don’t tell your sales team to pounce. Instead, talk to that person, find out why they are at the show, what they like to do for fun, and, you know, act like a human and not a sales robot!


It also pays to have a portable display or other booth exhibit that stands out. This way, people will want to visit your booth exhibit, and you can simply converse with everyone that’s drawn to your display. Whether you are attempting to network by walking around a trade show or whether you are behind a booth, make sure that you skip the “work the whole room” angle, and go for the more sincere approach – trust us, sincerity will get you everywhere when it comes to networking!

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