Sponsored by Discount Displays:
When it comes to meeting people at trade shows, it’s the quality of a relationship rather than how many business cards you can thrust into unsuspecting hands.
It’s not a competition in this respect, and business cards are not the little trophies that they are often made out to be. There’s no value in a million so-called connections where you can’t actually remember the name of their business, but there is much to be gained from a genuine and professional friendship where you can invite them out for a coffee the following week.
Drop the idea that you’re going to a trade show to simply play card swap and get into the mind set of sincere conversation.
If you’re planning on exhibiting, make sure that your pitch is professional and faultless. High quality banner stands and display pieces are a must, as well as a tablecloth and lighting for your table if you have one, though be careful not to hide behind it. Presentation is right up there on the priorities list at these events, as people can be fickle in terms of judging a book by its cover.
Make a schedule for people to come and speak with you throughout the day, perhaps people you’ve been in contact with prior to the event. Get to know your competition, as relationships of this kind can help make future clashes smooth out a lot more easily.
Make sure you have a networking game plan. So many people just turn up to trade shows with no idea who’s going to be there or who they should be talking to. There’s no harm in seeking out extra information, so be sure to find out which of the other attendees you should be talking to, even send them a friendly email before the event.
When you meet these people, remind them of this email exchange and make yourself memorable. Give these people the conversation they deserve, rather than the well-rehearsed sales pitch they’ve undoubtedly heard a hundred times over. Not everybody likes to be schmoozed, so as aforementioned, really go for that connection that you can call upon in the future.
Promote the event. It doesn’t matter if you have competition there, if your product is sound, your reps are well trained and you yourself are an excellent face of the product, then you should have no worries. Despite there being many other exhibits at this event, for the purpose of your company, it’s your event. Own it, and be proud of you involvement.
The days after the event are as important, if not more important than the event itself. This is the time when you need to be at your most hard-working and efficient. You need to respond quickly to all requests and you definitely need to follow up with the contacts you made while you were there. If you leave it too long, the trail will run cold and they could have forgotten both you and your company. Keep it light, friendly and open to a reply. Be selective to an extent and figure out the key people you made connections with rather than emailing everyone under the sun, though be sure to thank the host of the event for their time and efforts.
There are many ways companies can fall behind in terms of growing their business, but good networking skills are paramount to positive growth, therefore it is certainly worth spending time honing and practicing these skills.