It’s trade show season and you’re probably registered to attend one soon or perhaps you’re thinking about going to one. While attending is not as big a monetary commitment as exhibiting at a trade show, it is still an investment of your time. So it is important to get the most out of your attendance.
- Do your research. Most trade shows provide detailed information online for the show including who will be exhibiting, who will be attending, hours, sessions and more. This is key in making your visit a success.
- Make sure it is the right trade show for you and your business. Consider the types of exhibitors that will be there and the other businesses that will be attending. For example, if you are a business-to-business company, and many of the exhibitors will be consumer oriented, then most of the attendees will be consumers and it’s probably not worth your time.
- Plan your visit. Have specific goals and objectives. Are you looking to connect with potential clients, partners or suppliers? Use that to guide which booths you will visit, when you will attend and what your message will be. When possible set-up appointments in advance.
- Bring plenty of business cards and brochures. Be ready to share them when appropriate, but avoid the mistake of shoving business cards at people before you take the time to get to know them.
- Select events that are running with the show that are helpful to your business. Find out which events your customers will be attending.
- Introduce yourself. Everyone is wearing a badge and is there to talk business. By taking the initiative you can make valuable contacts. Take the opportunity to get invited to receptions and hospitality suites. A quick conversation could lead to an invaluable find.
- Plan your day. Depending on the size, visiting a trade show can take anywhere from several hours to a couple of days. Use your time wisely to gather intelligence on your competition and make new industry contacts that will benefit your company.
- At the end of each day, or when the trade show ends, take the time before you leave to make notes and organize the materials you gathered from attending the trade show.
- When you return from the trade show, remember to follow-up with the contacts you have made to cultivate those relationships. Either call or send an email to touch base, incorporating who you are, your encounter at the show, what you do and how you can help each other. They could be a potential client, supplier or referral source.