Dubai, Place of Dreams

Book, Strategy, Wellbeing • October 6, 2023

Dubai, place of dreams, and breaker of hearts. My startup client chose to spend its non-existent trade show budget on sending me to a huge (and expensive) trade fair in Dubai.

This happened years ago. I was just 25 and full of unearned confidence at that stage of my career.

My client was brand new in their niche, but their products were groundbreaking. How hard could this be? I would fly in, network like crazy, and bring them back hundreds of new connections. Easy Peasy.

And of course I would have 1 tourist moment by going to Burj Khalifa (see photo of tired me just landed in Dubai).

My heart fell into my boots on the first day of the event. There were contacts to be made there alright. Hundreds. And the conversations were loud and pulsating, like the noise from a swarm of happy productive bees, swapping business cards and trade secrets. I waited for the first coffee break, ready to make my move.

And like a butterfly, (I had splurged on a pretty new outfit for the event) I flitted into the room and settled near the busiest coffee machine. The buzzing bees ignored me. I flitted to another corner and tried to break into a conversation circle. The conversation died awkwardly as soon as I landed.

I worked out later that nearly 80% of the delegates knew each other very well, from previous gatherings. None of them had time for a young butterfly far from her meadow.

Now I have developed a suite of tactics to use at events like these. I am able to identify the queen bee in every group, and I am prepared with just the right open-ended questions to stimulate conversations.

Relationship marketing, networking, call it what you will, is the golden key to unlocking evergreen wealth. Knowing what to do and say at these events can make the difference between getting ones heart broken or getting the sale.

Luckily for younger me, my client had another key. They were not just good at what they did. They were the best. And as the only representative there, it was me that made my way up onto the stage not once, not twice, but three times! Their products made a clean sweep of the awards that were on offer.

Suddenly the social butterfly amongst the busy bees, was in demand. I was welcomed into conversational circles and I left Dubai, not with a broken heart, but with hundreds of business cards for my client to follow up with.

It is much easier to make an impression from the top of the awards stage of course, but there are authentic, non-deceptive event tactics that you can use with a little training, that will make your attendance at your next event pay big dividends.

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