Conferences and trade shows are reinventing themselves from old fashioned talks to interactive experiences. While some business owners will tell you that it’s all about networking online these days, that’s not true.
There’s still a lot to be said for a firm handshake and a face to face meeting, people can’t get to know you properly online after all. Trade shows are also a good opportunity for customers to get to see your product up close which is far better than seeing a picture or a video online. You can make a lot of good contacts at a trade show but you’ve got to be careful that you do it right. There’s going to be a lot of competition at these things so you’ll have to fight for the attention of the customers and make yourself stand out from the crowd. If you’ve been to a couple of trade shows and only come away with a few useless contacts, you need to read these tips on maximizing your efforts before you go to another one.
Look The Part
From your business cards to your attire, image is very important in business.
For instance, if you offer to drive a client, you'd want to make sure your vehicle is in good repair and clean it with a petrol pressure washer.
If you turn up in an car covered in dirt, people will immediately assume that your business isn’t doing so well and they won’t bother wasting time with you.
It’s also important that you dress well. People don’t usually realize that they’re doing it but they make a lot of judgments about a person based on their clothes. If you’re looking scruffy because you didn’t bother to put any effort into your outfit, people will assume that you have the same attitude toward your business, which is always bad news.
Make Your Booth Pop
There are going to be hundreds of different booths at a conference or trade show so you need to do something special to grab people's attention. The first thing to do is apply early so you get your choice of position. Most people think that the best place is right near the door but that’s not the case. When people first get there, they want to have a walk around and scope things out before they start moving toward any stalls. That means the ones right at the door are often overlooked. The best positions are usually at the end of a row, on the corner.
But don’t think that a good position guarantees you a lot of traffic, you need to do something that draws people’s attention as well. If you’ve just got a couple of stands with photos of your product on, it’s easy for people to walk right by. Try having some music playing and get some product videos instead of just pictures. It’s also a good idea to have live demonstrations so people can really get to grips with your products.
Have a Clear Goal
Last year we went to the inaugural Dublin Tech Summit and loved the interactivity happening online. It’s a good idea to download the app, take a look at attendees and identify any key players you want to network with.
Having a clear goal about who you want to meet before you go means you can make the best use of your time. If you go in without a clear aim, you’ll end up wandering around wasting time talking to people that aren’t going to offer anything to your company.
You can also generate more interest before the event by emailing the people that you’re interested in speaking to and letting them know what you’ve got to offer and why they should come to visit your booth. That way, you can let them come to you and make a lot more valuable contacts.
When people are looking for companies that they want to work with, they want people that are going to be proactive and enthusiastic about their business. A trade show is the perfect opportunity to show those qualities. Seek out the people that you want to network with and show them that you’re keen to work with them. Your products will do some of the work but your personality is more important than you might think
Follow-Up Is a Must
Have you ever come out of a conference or networking event with a pocket full of business cards ? If you don’t follow up with those leads and start setting up meetings, you’ve just wasted money going to the show in the first place. Don’t worry about appearing too eager, people will respect that. In the days following the event, spend some time writing emails to all of the people that you met. Tell them that you enjoyed meeting them and you want to set up a meeting to discuss how you could work together in the future.
Don’t try to save time by writing a blanket email either, they’ll be able to tell and it won’t impress them at all. Write a personal email to each and every contact you made at the trade show and try to include some details about your conversation with them. That will show that you remembered them specifically, rather than just sending generic emails to every address you picked up. Everybody loves to be flattered and you’d be surprised how well it works.
Always try to nail down a solid date for a meeting as soon as possible. Chances are, they’ll be getting loads of emails from people at the trade show so getting in as soon as possible and setting up a meeting before anybody else is the key to success.
Trade shows are a great opportunity for meeting contacts and furthering your business so make sure that you get the most out of them.
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