Attending Conferences 101: The Art of Saying Hello

By: Eden Hensley Photos By: Justin Hackworth for Alt Summit

First impressions are colored by expectations. We come into the moment having an idea of how we think it should go and of who the other person or people are. Before we utter our first word, we are using our senses to assess the situation; our fight or flight reflex is poised to kick in if needed. So stop those butterflies in their tracks. Pause, take a deep breath, square your shoulders, smile, reach out your hand (or go in for the hug), and say hello.

Crafting Your Elevator Pitch

An elevator pitch is simply a short description of who you are, what you do, and why or how you do it. It is your verbal business card.

For a blogger, the format goes as follows:

Hi, my name is [insert your name here]. My blog is [insert the name of your blog here], and I write about [insert two to three subjects you write about here]. [Optionally, include one sentence about why your blog is different or unique.]

Here's an example:

Hi I'm Eden. My lifestyle blog is The Road to The Good LIfe. I write about food, family, home, and fashion, with a focus on appreciating the haves in our lives rather than lingering on the wants. I believe it's the ordinary in our lives that we often take for granted that makes us extraordinary. 

As with anything, practice makes perfect. In this case, the more you introduce yourself, the more natural your elevator pitch becomes. The next time you are in line at the grocery or your corner market, take a moment to introduce yourself to the checker or the business owner you always see. If you are like me, you might always say Hi, but have not yet exchanged first names. 

If conversation does not come naturally to you, check out the recent Let's Chat series from Joy Uyeno of Frock Files. She offers tips on what to do when the other person doesn't say hello back and how to be engaged.

Being Consistent Offline and Online

At conferences, it is important to be consistent in your in person introductions as well as with your online presence. You are going to be meeting a lot of people. The goal of your elevator pitch is to entice the other person to get to know you better. Their next stop is your blog or website, your Facebook page, or other social media channel. (Do not assume the person you are meeting for the first time has not viewed your online presence; they may have stopped there first.)

Here is a quick checklist to ensure your offline and online presences are complementary:

  1. Does your headshot look like you? 
  2. Do your avatars look like you? If your avatar is your logo, before attending a conference and immediately after consider switching your avatar to your headshot. If you are a small business and a team is attending, think about a photo of both of you.
  3. Do your social media bios reflect your elevator pitch? 
  4. Does the about section on your blog or website expand on your elevator pitch? 
  5. Is your blog more outgoing (introverted) than you are? Many of our blogs have a different personality than we do--this is especially true for many lifestyle bloggers. Often an introvert comes across as an extrovert in their writing.