Trade shows can be excellent opportunities to contact with like-minded people and can open up endless opportunities, but can also be overwhelming and a complete waste of time for some. Here are five actionable tips to help you get the most out of attending a trade show:
1) Plan & Prepare
Before attending the trade show, know exactly what is it that you’re there for. Having an understanding of who it is you want to reach out to, what you’re purpose is (i.e. selling or promoting products/services), how this is going to help in the long-run and how you are going to be able to achieve this are all important things to consider before attending.
A helpful tip is to study event’s website before you attend, or even get to the show early. This can help you find out important information such as the layout of the trade show, workshop/seminar timetables and exhibitor attending lists. Creating an itinerary prior to the trade show can help you utilise your time effectively to build relationships with the people you want to speak to, instead of wasting valuable time wandering around not knowing what you’re looking for.
Once you’ve figured out exactly who it is that you want to see/speak to, write down some important questions that you can refer to before approaching them.
Don’t be afraid to get stuck in. Make the most of the opportunity to put yourself out there and introduce yourself, after all, networking is the most important part of a trade show. Engage with the exhibitors, and be quick to acknowledge and complement their stand design. According to Fret Free Productions, an exhibition stand could cost $70,000 or more, so they will appreciate the recognition. And don’t forget to bring those all-important business cards!
Keep an eye out for ‘open circles’ and if a conversation between other people seems appealing, go and get involved. Open up the conversation by asking those all important pre-prepared questions and show genuine curiosity.
3) Be social
The trade show will most likely have official hashtags which you should use to your advantage. Documenting your attendance on social media not only helps to show to your customers that you’re company is actively engaging in important business-related events, but it also opens opportunities of free publicity to both exhibitors and attendees alike. Using social media in this way can also help to establish and maintain relationships.
4) Stay organised
Networking at a trade show means your’e more than likely to walk away with a bag full of business cards. Make sure to keep yourself organised throughout the event by taking a few minutes to log important conversations by making small notes on the business card. You’ll thank yourself later when it comes to the follow-up stage of reaching out to those you want to stay in contact with.
5) Keep in touch
Don’t forget to send a follow-up! Timing is of the essence, so try and do this within the first 24 hours after the trade show to make sure they remember you. Keep the email friendly, remind them of who you are and personalise the message by picking up on something mentioned in your conversation at the event.