Softskills are heavily relied upon at an international trade show such as #CES2017, the Consumer Electronics Show. Venues such as CES are a great way to practise your softskills, meet new people and enhance your knowledge base. Last week I attended #CES, the 4 day Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. Immediately I realized how softskills come into play when networking at this massively attended event.
(Click on the pictures to watch #CES2017 as I walk the floor using my softskills)
Here are the order of softskills in typical execution as we make contact with another individual to engage in conversation.
1. Eye Contact
Eye contact is the most basic of softskills which has been with us since day one. It is the very first facet we use to connect with another person. It may last only a second but is the ice breaker. Much information is gathered in this quick glance and breaks the ice into conversation. We don’t even think about it. It either gives us a warm or cold feeling. It is said people who can’t make eye contact, can’t be trusted. Either that or they are very shy.
Eye contact quickly leads into a smile and we don’ t even think about it. It further supports the openness of eye contact. A smile puts the other party at ease letting them know you come as a friend and are willing to engage in conversation. This is especially important where you do not share the same language. Much exchange can happen with both eye contact and a smile.
The handshake can be used both at the beginning of a meeting or dialogue or at the very end. It further puts the 2 parties at ease as the most fundamental greeting there is among us humans. At the start it says you are happy to meet them. At the end it is a gesture of thank-you that thanks the other party for their time in speaking with you.
4. 20 Second Elevator Speech
This takes longer to hone and tweak. But eventually artistry with your vernacular can be used to engage a passer by with curiosity and further continue the dialogue by asking questions about the product or service the vendor is showcasing. Trade shows are a very good place to practise several different versions of your 20 second elevator speech. You can then assess which one gets the best response from people and keep in your arsenal for your next trade show when meeting with potential customers.
5. Proactive Engagement
When there was room on the floor, I did have several vendors take a step out towards me which told me they wanted to engage in conversation with me. It’s an inviting gesture that made me want to talk to the vendor. Of course, I naturally met them half way by taking a step or 2 towards them. It is just plain courtesy to meet them half way, without thinking.
6. Business Cards
Always carry an ample supply in a pocket which you can easily access with 1 hand as you may be holding pamphlets or a video camera like I was, in the other hand. You don’t have much time as the vendor wants to talk to as many visitors as possible.
7. Fun Component
Some vendors had simple activities like shooting down their drones with a nerf gun or taking a picture of you with your courtesy coffee & giving you a color copy of your visit to CES2017. It’s an easy way for a vendor to distribute marketing material such as a t-shirt with their logo and getting their name around the show floor.
Trade shows are a great place to practise your softskills and networking panache. Don’t underestimate your softskills ability in making you a better networker. The basic tools such as eye contact and a smile go a long way, especially at an international trade show where english may be little spoken.