Do people buy your product, or do they buy You? This question occurred to
me while I was at an international Textile show last week in Frankfurt,
Germany. It was a very high tech show, with many different companies
showcasing their very similar stuff. I was at a business/social event of
one of the companies, and waiting on my husband to arrive. I was somewhat
bored, since it is not my field. I was there as a spouse. But what do
observers of human behavior do when they are bored? You guessed it. I
observed human behavior! And some of my observations may be of benefit to
1. Many products are similar or same. What differentiates them just may be
their staff. How engaging are the staff, or not? One of the super salesmen
in this booth at the show, Sam, took his time to make me feel comfortable,
knowing a sale would not come from it. But he was so gracious; so much more
so than some others there who also could have been. Not just once, but
several times. Sam is the epitome of what salespeople should be. Not
pitching a sale, but making people feel comfortable. I overheard him speak
to another guest, and he asked about the man’s wife. And in a voice that
sounded like he cared. You know the difference.
2. Appearance matters. If you are at a business function, look the part.
This was certainly not the first time at a business function that I noticed
many women underdressed and most men well dressed. Our overall appearance
and dress affects the opinion others have of us. And this is something we
too often don’t teach, unfortunately. I suppose the reason we don’t teach it
is that too many people worry about “political correctness.” I worry more
about effectiveness. Women will never advance as they should unless and
until they refuse to confuse fashion and comfort with appropriate business
attire. This was not really as evident in this particular booth as it was
in other areas throughout the show. So perhaps Sam’s company is “teaching”
this. And the importance of dressing for business is true for all attendees
at a business function, not just those hosting a party in their booth.
3. When you are at a business event, reach out and touch someone, even
someone from another country, as did three people from Poland who reached
out to me. I must have looked lost, or at least looked like I wanted
someone to converse with, for they asked me to join them at their table. Grzegorz, Ewa, and Teresa were so kind to me, making me feel most welcome.
Teresa, was especially engaging, asking questions that showed an
interest in me. She was friendly, confident, and interesting. All three of
them made a wonderful impression not just of themselves, but of their company and country. This was connecting, not just networking.
So what is the net net of this?
We are never off duty. Others are often watching us and listening to us,
and may be judging our products, services, and companies from impressions
We should be aware, and be on our best behavior.