I still remember my first trade show experience. It felt like I was walking the gauntlet with caged animals on either side trying to get at me. Ok, so I say this in jest, but it does sometimes feel like this.
Trade shows are usually busy, pressure-packed events. There is a limited amount of time and a lot to see. You can maximize your return on invested time if you follow these tips:
- Have clear, written objectives. Most trade shows have hundreds of vendors and booths. Invest time before arriving to decide which have the highest potential for you and list the reasons you are attending the show.
- Have a product positioning statement. Communicating effectively in this fast-paced environment is essential. Prepare a short statement that identifies your target market, the top benefit of your product/service and the result of doing business with you.
- Meet, greet & move on. Trade show networking is not conducive to long conversations. Your dialogue needs to be focused, short and to the point. Be prepared to exchange a few sentences, get a business card and move on.
- Have 3 success stories. You will be meeting new contacts as well as renewing old ones. Be prepared to answer “What’s new?” Have a success story about you, about your company and your business.
- Have 3 questions. As you meet others, you will have the opportunity to find out information. Be prepared to ask “What’s new?” and make it easier for them by specifically asking about them, their company and their business.
- Carry breath mints. You will be spending a lot of time talking with a lot of people up close and personal. Because so much depends on your first impression, keep breath mints handy. It’s not if you’ll need them but when you’ll need them. (Others will too!).
- Get business cards. You will never be able to remember all the people, faces and names. It’s essential that you get a business card when talking with others. Develop a specific location to store incoming cards so you don’t hand them out by mistake.
- Write info down. Because it will be difficult, if not impossible, to remember specifics about conversations ask permission to write on a person’s card while you’re speaking with them. It will make you’re follow up much easier.
- Carry extra cards. One of the most common mistakes at trade shows is to run out of business cards. Bring extra and hand out a couple to each contact. If you run out, ask for your contact’s card and write your information on it.
- Timely follow up. As soon as you can after the show, sit down with your business cards, and organize and prioritize your contacts. Make follow up calls within 48 hours of the show to maximize your return on invested time.
Want to get better at maximizing your next trade show? Email me at info@NetworkingForResults. to receive a free copy of my Trade Show Tactics Executive Summary.
Michael J. Hughes is a recognized authority on utilizing networking as a business strategy. To find out more about him, or to have him present at your next meeting or conference, contact him at his web site at www.NetworkingForResults.com”