But it’s not enough to just show up.
To get the most out of the trade show experience for yourself, your company and even your personal brand you have to try and stand out from the crowd and employ some effective trade show optimization strategies.
Below we go over key tips to getting the most out of a trade show.
Try and Get a Speaker’s Spot
To do this you will have to contact the show ahead of time and have your presentation approved. Being a speaker at a trade show is a great way to publicize your brand and showcase your presentation skills, knowledge and professional capabilities. It is also a great opportunity to present yourself and your company as subject matter experts. Consumers are more likely to buy from you, refer you and your product or services or just come to you for information if you are perceived as a subject matter expert. Do not just provide a sales pitch when presenting – audiences will get bored, turn on their smart-phones or just walk out. There are multiple companies selling their goods via the pitch, you will just be seen as one of the many. Providing value is key when presenting at a trade show. You will also have a captive audience to whom you can pass out promotional materials or your Twitter handle.
Use Social Media
LinkedIn is a great way to optimize your trade show experience and stay in contact with important contacts. But it’s not just about sending a stock LinkedIn connection request. First review the trade show agenda then search LinkedIn for the trade show’s speakers, panelists and other relevant people. Send these people personalized connection invitations and mention that you plan on attending their talk, event or seminar. After they have accepted you connection request and before the show write a friendly LinkedIn status in which you include their tagged, hot-linked name. This way trade show attendees will see that you are serious about connecting and that you remember them. After the trade show remember to add and endorse those you met. Once you are at the event live tweet what is happening using the show’s hashtag and also direct certain tweets at the handles of those you have met. This way you show you appreciated the meeting and may get a ‘follow’ from a contact you find valuable. Tweeting about the show is also a good way for others at the show to find you or know that you are there – some of these people can be useful contacts for your business objectives.
Network the Right Way
Everyone has networking on their mind when attending a trade show. You have your business cards ready and you’re determined to talk about your product, service or company as much as you can. But wait. Your objective should be to engage, not to talk mindlessly and bore or even worse annoy an important contact. When networking it is important to have a valuable exchange of information, not a one way conversation. Be creative – ask whoever you are talking to describe their ideal business lead. Remember to be interested in what they are saying and ask questions about them and listen. Through doing this you can even prompt a further discussion about them via a coffee or Skype which is when you can bring up your product, service or company message. Also see yourself as an ambassador for your company, rather than only a sales person. Present your knowledge, ideas and projects while talking to a contact so that they are impressed by you and then by extension your company. Don’t just talk – give valuable info. And finally talk to everyone. Don’t assume someone may be too junior to be a decision maker. Attend seminars and any meals. You never know what important contacts the person seated next to you might have. Getting your name out there to everyone is more likely to result in a lead or a follow up email from potential lead or client.
Follow these tips and remember the basics; wear comfortable shoes and blazer with pockets for the collection of business cards. Also bring a charger for your phone, you don’t want it to die in the middle of a tweet. Also use your phone to take plenty of photos to share after and during the event.
This year we are at the National Restaurant Association (NRA) show at Givex booth 6451. We are always happy to just have a chat or share information! Come by and say ‘hi’!
For a full list of the trade shows we’ll be attending this year see here.