Thoughts on construction law from Christopher G. Hill, Virginia construction lawyer, LEED AP, mediator, and member of the Virginia Legal Elite in Construction Law

Smile and Sincerity: It’s How You Make a Connection at a Construction Conference

Best Practices Construction LawFor this week’s Guest Post Friday post here at Construction Law Musings, we welcome back a good friend, Matthew DeVries. Matt (@matthewdevries) is a construction lawyer in Nashville, Tennessee and the founder of, a construction-related blog that focuses on transportation, green building, and technology. He heads the Tennessee construction law practice of Stites & Harbison PLLC, which has offices in TN, VA, KY, GA, and IN. He is married and has seven young kids.

As a construction lawyer, I do a good deal of public speaking. Next week, I will be speaking at the AGC National Conference in Honolulu, Hawaii on the following topic: From BIM and PDFs to Tweets and eDiscovery: Planning and Managing a Technology-Driven Construction Project. After attending at least 100 conferences and trade shows over the last 20 years, I have made a few observations about the people, booths and information presented by the companies in attendance:

  • People love giveaways. This may not seem like a big deal to you or your company after having shelled out thousands of dollars to attend and host a booth at one of these shows. However, your booth will see a lot more traffic if you have some incentive, enticement or … let’s just say it … an iPad to give away.
  • Eye contact is important. Whether you are manning the booth for your company or you are walking the floor trying to decide where to stop, eye contact is the first meaningful connection that you will make. I cannot tell you how many booths I strutted right past because the person sitting (…not standing…) behind the booth was either reading something, texting on their phone, or simply not paying attention.
  • A smile invites a meaningful connection. Again, no matter which side of the booth you are on, a smile can make all the difference in the world. As a construction lawyer, I am not sure how much these vendors or suppliers want to chat with me. In other words, I am not looking to purchase a new excavator or concrete product. However, it is about making connections with people in the industry. If I cannot help them, perhaps I can find someone who can help them.

In the end, if part of the draw to a conference or trade is the business development and networking, you need to realize that it is kind of like speed-dating. You may be selling products, services or expertise. You only have a short amount of time. Give them a smile … a genuine and sincere introduction … and make a meaningful connection.

As always, Matt and I welcome your comments below. Please subscribe to keep up with this and other Guest Post Fridays at Construction Law Musings.

Smile and Sincerity: It’s How You Make a Connection at a Construction Conference
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One Response to Smile and Sincerity: It’s How You Make a Connection at a Construction Conference

  1. Great tips here! Maybe we’ll run into each other at one of these conferences someday.

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