Networking Power Tips – 10 Productive Trade Show Tactics

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I still remember my first trade show experience. It felt like I was walking the gauntlet with caged animals on either side trying to get at me. Ok, so I say this in jest, but it does sometimes feel like this.

Trade shows are usually busy, pressure-packed events. There is a limited amount of time and a lot to see. You can maximize your return on invested time if you follow these tips:

1.Have clear, written objectives. Most trade shows have hundreds of vendors and booths. Invest time before arriving to decide which have the highest potential for you and list the reasons you are attending the show.

2. Have a product positioning statement. Communicating effectively in this fast-paced environment is essential. Prepare a short statement that identifies your target market, the top benefit of your product/service and the result of doing business with you.

3. Meet, greet & move on. Trade show networking is not conducive to long conversations. Your dialogue needs to be focused, short and to the point. Be prepared to exchange a few sentences, get a business card and move on.

4. Have 3 success stories. You will be meeting new contacts as well as renewing old ones. Be prepared to answer “What’s new?” Have a success story about you, about your company and your business.

5. Have 3 questions. As you meet others, you will have the opportunity to find out information. Be prepared to ask “What’s new?” and make it easier for them by specifically asking about them, their company and their business.

6. Carry breath mints. You will be spending a lot of time talking with a lot of people up close and personal. Because so much depends on your first impression, keep breath mints handy. It’s not if you’ll need them but when you’ll need them. (Others will too!).

7. Get business cards. You will never be able to remember all the people, faces and names. It’s essential that you get a business card when talking with others. Develop a specific location to store incoming cards so you don’t hand them out by mistake.

8. Write info down. Because it will be difficult, if not impossible, to remember specifics about conversations ask permission to write on a person’s card while you’re speaking with them. It will make your follow up much easier.

9. Carry extra cards. One of the most common mistakes at trade shows is to run out of business cards. Bring extra and hand out a couple to each contact. If you run out, ask for your contact’s card and write your information on it.

10. Timely follow up. As soon as you can after the show, sit down with your business cards, and organize and prioritize your contacts. Make follow up calls within 48 hours of the show to maximize your return on invested time.

Want to get better at maximizing your next trade show? Email me at info@NetworkingForResults. to receive a free copy of my Trade Show Tactics Executive Summary.

Michael J. Hughes is a recognized authority on utilizing networking as a business strategy. To find out more about him, or to have him present at your next meeting or conference, contact him at his web site at

8 Guidelines on Receiving Feedback from Others.

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As an professional, entrepreneur or executive, one of your characteristics should be a willingness to grow and learn. One of the best ways to do this is through feedback from others. This information could be a response to your specific request or through unsolicited comments.

The problem with feedback is that it is subjective, carrying both the opinion and perspective of the other person. Sometimes, it can be difficult to hear comments from others and keep an open mind, even though you know you should. Use these feedback guidelines to help keep you focused and positive:

1.Become more objective. Every person has her/his opinion about any topic. It’s important to recognize that statements and comments in a conversation are usually made in a general context. Try not to become too emotionally involved in the comments of others, especially when they refer to issues that affect you.

2. Don’t ask if you don’t want to know. Sometimes we ask for feedback, yet aren’t psychologically or emotionally prepared to deal with the information. Recognize that if you ask for feedback you’ll get it, and it may not be something you will enjoy.

3. Listen. When others offer their opinion or perspective, have the courage and the courtesy to listen to their complete response. Remember that they’re giving you the benefit of their view of the situation, event or discussion. Listen to learn by appreciating the information you are receiving.

4. Say thank you. No matter what the comments are, offer a sincere “thank you” when your conversation partner has finished. This allows you to acknowledge the other person’s remarks without committing you to accept them. This neutral response also allows you time to review and assess the information received before commenting.

5. Dig deeper. One last important point in dealing with feedback is to expand your understanding of the other person’s comments. The two biggest barriers to effective communication are perception and semantics. Eliminate both by asking follow up questions to clarify your understanding of the information offered.

6. Review their qualifications. Before responding to feedback, invest a moment to review the qualifications of the individual making the statement. Ask yourself how qualified they are to make such a remark on this topic. This may allow you to immediately disqualify their words as mere conversation instead of taking them seriously.

7. Question their intent. When receiving feedback, it’s extremely important to assess the intent of the other person. Were their remarks intended to be helpful or hurtful? This simple question can go a long way towards helping you gauge the value of the information shared by your conversation partner.

8. The three feedback questions to ask yourself:
1. Am I prepared to accept feedback at this time? (say thank you anyway)
2. What are this person’s qualifications to offer feedback on this area?
3. What is this person’s intent in offering feedback (to be helpful or hurtful)

Every conversation, presentation or discussion is an opportunity to learn and grow. Are you investing in yourself by having the courage to ask for feedback? Most people will appreciate being asked. Are you looking for more support in this area? Email me at Let’s chat. I can help.

Michael Hughes is known as THE Networking Guru. To find out more about him and receive a complimentary copy of his ebook “Managing the Networking Experience,” visit his web site at


I made her cry, yet she still thanked me!

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In the fall of 2014, I was engaged to deliver a workshop in eastern Canada. A few weeks prior to the event I received an email from someone in that city. She was a successful entrepreneur interested in building a speaking business.  She wanted to meet with me about this dream. This isn’t an unusual request and I am always happy to share my experience and expertise.

We met after my session and I spent about 30 minutes with her. She was bright, enthusiastic and quite excited about pursuing her speaking career. She had some specific questions about the speaking business and her direction. I felt I was polite, professional and supportive. I walked away feeling good about the conversation.

Three months later, my wife and I attended a speakers’ conference. Arriving the evening before, we decided to grab a drink and catch up with a number of my speaker friends. Walking into the lobby, the first person we met was this same young lady, who was chatting with two colleagues. When we introduced ourselves, she promptly announced to the group “This is the man who made me cry.”

I must admit to being taken aback by the comment. My wife was looking at me as if to say “what did you do to this nice young lady?” I was speechless as she recounted the details our meeting. She said that my questions put her into a state of high anxiety and, rushing back to her car, she broke into tears. She phoned her local business mentor and tearfully shared her experience.

She did admit that our meeting forced her to come to terms with some difficult decisions she had been contemplating, not the least of which was to attend the conference. She ended her diatribe by saying she was much better off for our conversation and appreciated my comments. I walked away feeling somewhat better but still a little depressed about the whole encounter.

My young protégée ended up sharing her story a number of times over the course of the conference. I got comments from colleagues who mentioned similar recollections after having had a mentoring conversation with me. By the end of the conference, I accepted the fact that I have a tendency to, when asked, find the right question or identify the right direction, even if it’s not what others want to hear.

Last week, the same young lady in the story above sent me the following email message.
SUBJECT LINE: All thanks to you.
Thank you for making me cry. It made me realize that I needed to concentrate more on the speaking aspect of my business. Although I am sure you didn’t intend to upset me, you gave me the push that I needed to get going. I am proud that since I met you I have accomplished:
–          Registered my speaking business
–          Use a CRM online system
–          Joined CAPS!!
–          Designed a website:
–          Designed a Facebook page
–          Raised my rate
–          Wrote a keynote
–          Incorporated my keynote into my Networking sessions
–          Booked four sessions this month with more to come.
I can’t thank you enough. I am excited, motivated and truly believe that I am taking the correct path for me.
Your kindness is appreciated.
Krista T. Walsh, CFCP

Are you stuck in your business or your career? Let’s talk. I may make you cry, but chances are you’ll walk away with an idea, insight or information that will propel you to the next level. Maybe we can even work together to help you get there.  Email me at with “CRY” in the subject to schedule a conversation

Networking Power Tips: 11 Networking Confidence Builders

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Does your blood pressure rise at the mere thought of attending a networking event? Are you nervous about carrying on conversations with new contacts? You’re not alone.

Many people have great difficulty simply meeting others. There can be any number of reasons for this, all of which are real. Here are some strategies to help you build your confidence about going to the next networking event.

1. Clarify your issue. Become more aware of why you have difficulty meeting others. Is it a lack of self-confidence? Are you uncomfortable because you feel you must use networking to “sell”? Are you simply unsure of what to do or say? By addressing the reason for your discomfort, you can improve how you deal with the situation.

2. Re-enforce the value. Accept that meeting others is one of the most effective ways to get more business or advance your career. By attending the event you will be giving others the opportunity to become more informed about you and your value. By increasing your sense of value you will feel more confident in meeting others.

3. Change your mindset. Emphasize the social aspect of networking rather than feeling you must find and qualify prospects or new career opportunities. Focus on making friends instead of doing business. This will take away a lot of your anxiety while giving you essentially the same results.

4. Set an objective. Once you have made the decision to attend a networking event, invest in setting a clear objective. This will help keep you focused as you meet and talk with others. It will also give you a basis for which to measure your networking success.

5. Prepare for success. If you know you have difficulty developing conversations, why not plan to reduce the chance of being in this situation. Meet up with a friend or bring along a colleague. You could also check with the host in advance to find out who else will be there (and create an important contact during the call).

6. Have a start-up strategy. Most conversations start the same way. Plan and practice the words and actions you will use until they become second nature. Here’s a simple structure for you: make eye contact, smile, offer your hand and introduce yourself. Practice this structure until it becomes a positive habit.

7. Go public. Tell others about your discomfort when you first meet them. You’ll find that many people feel the same way. Even if they don’t, they’ll usually go out of their way to help develop a conversation and you’ll feel better having shared this with them.

8. Shift the conversational focus. Sometimes the stress about meeting others comes from feeling we must carry the conversation. The most brilliant conversation partners are excellent listeners who ask the right questions. Strive to get others talking from the moment of contact. They will enjoy your company even more.

9. Have three questions to ask. Much of the stress we feel in meeting others comes from being unsure of what to say. Having questions ready that can act as conversation starters can reduce your anxiety as you make contact with another person. Every conversation has natural opportunities to ask about things like common issues, family or background.

10. Emphasize The “secret sauce.” The most powerful human bonding agent is context. When you steer the conversation into discovering areas of common interest, especially on a personal level, you accelerate your  sense of comfort and immediately feel more confident about yourself.

11. Develop your skills. Meeting others is part of your interpersonal skills tool kit. Everyone can develop these simple and effective skills. No matter what your level of confidence or competence, you can improve if you continually assess your performance and your results.

Michael Hughes is known as THE Networking Guru. To find out more about him and receive a complimentary copy of his ebook “Managing The Networking Experience”, visit his web site at

The Metrics of Networking for Results – Part One of Two

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You don’t attend networking events because you need more friends. It’s part of your professional mandate. Yet it’s so easy to get lost in the social aspects of this environment: just showing up, being seen, shaking a few hands and be on your way.

Networking for results is a process that creates and develops relationships that lead to specific outcomes. It involves two distinct areas: social interaction supported by strategic relationship-building. They are inexorably linked, interdependent and mutually supportive.

Relationships are ignited by a networking interaction. Although this experience can seem organic and unstructured, it is actually a formal process that can be planned, measured and maximized for optimal results. Here are the five key metrics of a networking interaction.

New-contact connections. A primary purpose of networking is to create new contacts. They represent the lifeblood of new opportunities and options. Yet our brains are geared to resist reaching out. It takes both courage and a commitment to action to achieve performance-based networking. You should be aiming for an average of five new contacts at every networking event.

Quality of conversation. It’s easy to have comfortable conversations that are entertaining and enjoyable, but your mission is to build productive, profitable relationships. As such, networking conversations must be maximized to identify and engage your highest-value contacts. Are you measuring the impact of the focused questions and effective listening you have, even in a 30-second conversation?

Business cards collected. This is one of the most under-utilized and overlooked performance areas of networking for results, yet it represents the most powerful resource for moving a relationship forward. Others expect it, anticipate it and will think more of you for asking. Plus, it contains everything you need to stay in touch. It should be part of every conversation. Is it?

Follow up confirmations. Up to 90% of professionals readily admit they do not follow up after a networking interaction. You eliminate this effect by asking to re-connect before you part company. This minimizes the stress of follow up, while the other person perceives you as more professional when you honor your commitment. Are you measuring your effectiveness in this all-important area?

Confirmed appointments. The ultimate measure of a networking interaction is its ability to act as the catalyst for relationship-building. Contacts, conversations and the networking experience must convert to on-going contact. Measure the link between them by confirming their impact on moving the relationship forward. What is your contact-to- follow-up-appointment ratio?

Summary: Counter-intuitive as it seems, implementing these performance-related areas does not detract from the human dynamic of a networking interaction. In fact, they will enhance both its impact and its intensity by helping you be more focused, more present and more professional.

NOTE: want to start measuring your networking results? Email me at to receive a free copy of my one-page Networking Event Planning & Tracking Summary.
Michael J. Hughes is a recognized authority on utilizing networking as a business strategy. To find out more about him, or to have him present at your next meeting or conference, contact him at his web site at

Avoiding the New Year’s Resolution Trap.

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Another new year has arrived with all its potential and possibilities. Like turning a page, it offers a clean slate; a chance to start anew. Not that the challenges and disappointments of last year have disappeared, they just seem less weighty in the light of this new beginning.

I know that you’re reflecting on the year just passed and committing (or re-committing) to goals and objectives under the guise of “New Year’s Resolutions.” Before proceeding any further, make sure you position yourself to avoid these four self-defeating Resolution Traps.

The purpose trap. Often, we set a “resolution-de-jour” because it seems like the right thing to do. Goals work best when they are grounded by a higher purpose. Weight loss is simply a vehicle that leads to better health and a longer life. Without a deeper purpose, you will not be committed enough to fight the status quo and persist in the direction of your goal.

The plan trap. Too many people succumb to the myth that resolution-setting and planning is the same thing. Setting a goal is the first step. Planning is the process that confirms its achievement. Running a marathon in five hours by a specific date is a goal. Planning the activities required, by breaking them down (on a monthly, weekly and daily basis), is the basis for its accomplishment.

The productivity trap. Every resolution has a honeymoon phase during the first couple of weeks, driven by enthusiasm and a positive attitude. Setting a goal to learn a new language is great, but without a structure to measure progress, the goal quickly seems unattainable. Activity, without productivity, is wasted effort. Monitored effort stimulates action and motivates on-going commitment.

The patience trap. Even though you buy into the resolution-planning concept supported by a productivity model, the reality that this is hard work, it will take time and cause stress. The biggest challenge is always to convince the mind to stay the course. Patience isn’t a virtue; it’s the mindset that drives resolution success.

A New Year’s morning decision is easy but a New Year’s Resolution is a wonderful gift you give to yourself. Choose it carefully, unwrap it slowly, use it wisely and keep it close. By following these simple steps, you’ll guarantee that it supplies lasting value and immense satisfaction, after all, aren’t you worth it?

Michael Hughes is THE Networking Guru. Receive a FREE copy of his 13-page ebook Managing The Networking Process at

On Being the Best

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Have you thought about what is takes to be the best? “Being the best” is a relative term and can apply to any company irrespective of its industry, scope or size. Here are some characteristics that (in my mind) define being the best. These are based on my recent experiences in working with, or interacting with, “the best”.

 Presentation. In every experience with these “best” companies, I was overwhelmed by the visual impact. From exterior views to interior decor to intimate detail, the presentation was exquisite and extraordinary. This sense of visual impact was consistent throughout my entire experience in each case when involved with a “best” company. The resulting emotions I remember most vividly were feelings of security and well-being. In a word, I felt comfortable.

What do you do in the areas of personal and professional presentation to demonstrate that your colleagues, clients and contacts are dealing with the best?

Quality. Plasma screen television instead of the standard model. Snacks shaped like golf tees. Fresh orange juice delivered to the room each morning. A high-quality, monogrammed decal produced and delivered within minutes. A choice of the finest wines. Fairways groomed to perfection. A patio bar that can be accessed from both inside and outside the house (this was my favorite). Your choice of newspaper delivered to your room. Each “best” company delivered a quality experience that left me with an unbelievable, lasting effect.

What do you do to produce a quality experience for colleagues, clients and contacts as they interact with you and your company?

Value. As a business concept, value is both a pre-requisite for, and a passport to, increased fees and additional profits. As consumers, we seek value. In fact, we are prepared to pay more once we have established value. Each “best” company contact delivered value that not only justified price, it made it (to a certain extent) irrelevant. Communicating value was an integral part of the experience as we were informed about the various items, from explaining how to use the plasma TV to the purpose of a “runner” as part of our golf foursome to spot our drives and rake the sand traps. And in every case, these “best” companies confirmed that we realized the value we received. What a concept!!

What do you do to deliver value to colleagues, clients and contacts, and how do you confirm they understand and appreciate what they have received?

Impact. I am convinced that a key to attaining and maintaining “best” company status is to continuously strive to deliver high impact in the three areas identified above. My recollection of every “best” company experience includes the impact of the presentation, the quality and the value. Whether the impact was visual, visceral or value-based, it had an impact that will stay with me for a long time. P.S.: I now measure other experiences on a scale that is based on the impact these supplied.

What are your doing in your everyday activities that will deliver a high-impact experience for colleagues, clients and contacts?

Best the best isn’t some ideal to strive for. It isn’t only for the Fortune 500. It applies to you. It’s how you present and position yourself every single day. It’s a state of mind. Want to discuss how you or your company can “be the best”. Contact me at

5 Reasons You Aren’t Achieving the Success You Deserve (and What To Do About It)

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You were created to achieve. It’s in your DNA. You are destined to succeed. The only thing that can get in the way of this outcome is you. No matter how passionate, disciplined or competent you are, there are roadblocks that appear. Here are five of the most common and what you can do to blow them out of your way.

1. Misaligned purpose. You were put here for a reason. Discovering it, and driving towards it, is your ultimate life mission.  This will be the true measure of your success. When you become aware of the contribution you are destined to make, nothing will hold you back.

Life is a continuous process of discovery. Sometimes, we only have some of the pieces of the puzzle and presume that we have the whole picture, perceiving success only in monetary, career or personal terms. If you feel frustrated or discouraged, it could be that your purpose has not yet fully unfolded. If the answer is not clear, you simply need to ask more questions.

2. Incomplete planning. Everyone knows setting goals is a secret to success and that working towards them is another. How many times have you set an important goal and watched it disappear within a few weeks or months? How often have you started a new regimen, only to fall back into your old habits?

The problem is, too many people focus on each as a separate area. Long term goals are meaningless unless broken down into the individual components that create the intended outcomes. It is the goal-focused daily and weekly activities that accumulate to deliver your success. Success is a symbiotic process that marries goal structure to activity from concept to conclusion.

3. Ineffective accountability. Holding oneself accountable is a cornerstone of success. It is the link between determination and discipline. Being accountable means accepting that achieving success requires a structure that keeps you aligned with your destination.

The issue is that, too often, we incorporate an “accountability flex factor,” monitoring the measurement process in isolation. Accountability is more meaningful when it is measured in a transparent environment. Success-driven accountability means monitoring performance in a team environment or making it a public process.

4. The high score factor. Success is a journey that includes peaks and valleys. We often achieve positive results early, or hit streaks of higher-than-anticipated outcomes. These unexpected windfalls build confidence and confirm we are moving in the right direction.

An unfortunate by-product of higher-than-expected results is that they can negatively impact our performance and long term focus. Superb results can be the result of excellent work, but they can also mean goals have been set too low or the market is over-correcting. Remember, success always comes at a price. Are you being rewarded for the price you paid, or are you preparing to pay it later?

5. Lack of growth. You are an evolving creature. Knowledge is the fuel that propels you forward and upward. You have achieved your current level of success as a result of the investment you’ve made in developing yourself and your skills.

Just as your body continues to grow, develop and evolve, so must your mind. Continuously investing in personal and professional growth is the most effective strategy to accelerate success. The future is in the hands and minds of those who have the courage to grow. You are meant for more. Your mission is to create it.

Are you struggling with achieving success in your life?  Let’s chat. Simply email me at

Michael Hughes

5 Must-Read Books in 2014

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Last year I read 45 business books on management, leadership, marketing and sales. It was a great investment in gaining new knowledge, acquiring new ideas and building a new perspective.

Below is a list of the five books I feel had the greatest impact on each of these areas. You will benefit from reading any one of these. I recommend reading all of of them.

P.S.:  want a sneak peak at the value of each? Check my note at the bottom of this post.

5. The 12 Week Year (Brian P. Moran & Michael Lennington). I put this book at the top of the list simply because of the time of year (seems like everyone is focused on setting goals). The author shares a powerful, practical system that works, and he’s both inspiring and enthusiastic. Read this book if you want to accomplish something great.

4. The Trust Edge (David Horsager). This book explains and explores the eight critical areas of trust and how to apply them in a leadership environment (and don’t we all lead in some way?). It includes a number of practical strategies and tactics that create, build and leverage trust. Read this book if you want to build better relationships.

3. The Innovator’s Dilemma (Clayton M. Christensen). I truly enjoyed reading this book because of its unique perspective on innovation. It contained some great examples of the incredible and exponential changes that have occurred in technology, as well as why and how they happened. Read this book if you want to re-invigorate your mind and tackle new challenges.

2. Work With Me (Barbara Annis & John Gray).  There are any number of books on gender-based communications. This is one that is jammed with practical info and backed by a ton of new research that validates how we communicate between the sexes and how to improve. Read this book if you want to dramatically improve how to communicate with the opposite sex.

1. Give and Take (Adam Grant). If you’ve read this far, you’re serious about professional development. If I could only recommend one book, this would be it. It touches on a basic human principle we all take for granted, and turns it into what I consider to the most important strategy of your life . Read this book  if you want to achieve more success, results and happiness on both a personal and professional level.

NOTE: When I read, I read to learn. I highlight the information I feel is relevant, then copy these salient points into a summary to capture and retain the information. In some of the books I read last year (like the ones above), I took almost 20 pages of notes. And finally, I summarize the most important points into a two-page list.

If you’d like to see my  top take-aways from each of the books above (5 x 2 pages), send me an email message at with “books” in the subject line. I’ll send it to you as PDF file.

New-Economy Networking: 5 Top Conference Leverage Strategies

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Networks now rule the world: information networks, technology networks and yes, social networks. Networking, the process of accessing and leveraging networks, has become a specific, strategic initiative for major corporations. The new value-based asset is the quantity and quality of a network. The new reality is that the primary objective in attending any event should be to evaluate its ability to establish and confirm a contribution to increasing or strengthening your social network.

This post is meant as a call-to-arms for any professional planning to attend a conference. Change your mindset and your methodology from simply experiencing the event to maximizing every seemingly random contact and every conscious connection. Your future survival and success depends on it. Here are five conference network principles that support this theory along with strategies and tactics to leverage each.

1. Conferences create network convergence. A conference brings together a number of individuals who each have their own circles of information, insights and influence. They have the power to support and strengthen you in ways you’ve never thought of. Imagine gaining access to even just one or two of these new resources.

2. Conferences foster network context. Conferences attract like-minded individuals who have similar interest. Research on networks has confirmed that the fastest way to create and strengthen connections is to build context, considered the super-glue of networks.

3. Conferences offer multiple network connection opportunities. One of the incredible network asset-building capacities of conferences is that they offer a limitless number of connection points through seminars, banquets, social gatherings and random contacts.

4. Conferences act as network flash points. Seemingly random conference contacts are really ignition points that hold within them the power to bring networks together. The key to seizing this potential is to realize that there is value in this person, then persisting in the conversation until you discover where it lies.

5. Conferences contain the foundation for relationship-building, the core of social networks. Translating conference connections into resources and rewards lies in the ability to convert their contribution to the relationship-building process. These contacts, when nurtured and strengthened in the days and weeks following the initial connection, will provide the opportunities and options for future success.

P.S.: are you attending an upcoming conference? Send an email to with “conference” in the subject line. I’ll send you a complimentary copy of my Conference Networking Strategies ebook.

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