Breaking the Ice: How to Strike Up Conversation at #ASW13

Conferences are full of great opportunities to make great business contacts and in some cases, you may even find yourself starting lasting friendships. But you'll only reap these benefits by actually getting out there and making connection with people face to face. As tempting as it may be to hole up in the room or play tourist down the Vegas strip, you won't be getting your full value out of Affiliate Summit West 2013(#ASW13) by keeping solo company.

The power of personally connecting and human interaction accelerates relationship building.

from "Why Networking in Person Still Matters" by  Deborah Shane via

I know it can seem very overwhelming when you first step foot inside a conference. Seeing that big sea of people might leave you feeling unsure about how to dive in head first and start speaking to the masses. But take a breath and remember you aren't trying to talk with everyone all at once. You're going to be building relationships over the course of the conference one contact at a time. I've listed a few tips below that can help you put that first toe in the conversational water. 

How to make the first conversational move:

  • Locate another individual who is alone and looking as uncomfortable as you feel. Walking up to a group of people can be intimidating so start with singling out someone who is also by themselves. At the very least you know they are most likely feeling just as awkward as you are. 
  • When you make your move to introduce yourself approach the individual with a confident handshake, direct eye contact, and a warm smile. 
  • Remember you have something in common with every other attendee. Everyone traveled from somewhere to get there and they all have a reason for registering right? So start there - ask what brings the person to Affiliate Summit, how the conference has been, or what they are looking to get out of it. Location is another easy conversation started - you could ask the individual about their trip to the show. Where are they traveling from, have they been to Las Vegas before, will they have any free time after the show before returning home and if so, is there anything they are hoping to see before leaving.  Another option would be to start with an opening question relevant to what brought you together. At a sponsored party you could start with asking what their experience has been with the sponsor, or if you are attending a session ask if they have ever heard the panelists/ speakers present before or what caught their eye about that specific session.. 
  • Do some research. Affiliate Summit has set up several great tools to help attendees get the most out of their conference experience. Take advantage of these to plan your communication strategies. Check the schedule to view which networking events and educational sessions you would like to attend.You can also review the exhibitor list to research which companies you would like to learn more about. Affiliate Summit has also created multiple channels for attendees to interact with each other throughout the show. Be sure to check out their Social Network, set up meetings using the Interactive Schedule Tool,or download the mobile App to keep tabs on the latest Tweets and keep the schedule of events in the palm of your hand.
  • Submerse yourself in the conference! Take these tips and put them to use in as many social situations as possible. Before you know it, approaching new people will feel less nauseating and more like second nature to you, the social butterfly!
Sarah Beeskow Blay

By Sarah Beeskow Blay

Hi! I'm Sarah, the Director of Client Services for I came to ShareASale in 2005 and am responsible for providing strategic guidance and educational resources to Merchants & Affiliates that can be used to grow their accounts.
My favorite thing in the world, aside from affiliate marketing of course, is traveling. Random fact: my first concert ever was Neil Diamond when I was 4. As a result, I know an alarmingly large number of Neil Diamond songs. Don’t be a hater.
What to be business pals? You can find me here on LinkedIn

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