HSMG Conference Tip 2 of 5: Even If You're Shy, Just Say Hi
This blogpost series focuses on tips for attending the annual Handcrafted Soapmaking Guild (HSMG) Conference. This year the conference is held in Miami, FL on May 18-20, 2011. As I mentioned in my first post, the first year I attended I had no idea what to expect. I've picked up little tips along the way (and some thanks to input from other attendees) that I hope you'll find helpful if you're planning to attend.
Meeting other bath and body company entrepreneurs, industry movers and shakers, and networking is one of the highlights of the conference. It's common to be shy, especially if you are attending the conference for the first time by yourself. If you're not much of a mingler, or have never attended a business networking function to hone your networking skills, here are a few tips to get you making new friends.
First, it really can be as easy as just saying hello. Remember, you're at a soap convention. Just ask someone what kind of soap they make and where they're from - it's that easy. I always joke that one of the reasons I go to the soap conference is because I can talk soap with other people 24/7 and no one fades out or loses interest. But it's true. Everyone is there for the same reason: we love soap and want to promote and sell more of it.
"Jump through the hoop - put fear aside. It's amazing what happens after the ice is broken," says Mary Humphrey of Annie's Goat Hill (Leesburg, OH). She admits that she was previously a very shy person until she decided to just jump into conversations.
Second, go to Twitter or Facebook to find new acquaintances prior to the conference. "Pick a few people to interact with. Look online to get a feel for someone. Introduce yourself to them," says Kristen Bowen of Kristen Bowen Studio (Hyde Park, UT). One of the easiest ways to do this is to go to the HSMG Facebook fan page, introduce yourself and ask who else is attending the conference. Go to Twitter and follow @TheSoapGuild, @BackPorchSoap, @kbstudio, and @anniesgoathill.
Third, make friends with the wonderful HSMG volunteers. They wear brightly color aprons (easy to spot), have a great sense of humor, are friendly and are pros at making introductions. Even though they are quite busy throughout the conference, they have time for a quick hello, know many of the conference attendees, and are a great resource for meeting new people.
Lastly, use breakfast, lunch and dinner as a time to just simply say hello and talk soap to fellow colleagues. Remember that this isn't a time to sell your soaps. It's a time to be open to new friendships and to potential opportunities.
What are some suggestions you'd like to share?
Check back tomorrow for How to Get Your Social Media Game on During and After the Conference.