The day of the show is here. This is the fun part: it’s time to shake hands, meet new people, and pick up as many cheese samples as possible. In part two of our trade show tips blog series we’ll share our best tips to help you promote your brand while you’re at the event.
Using your time at the show wisely really boils down to one thing: your networking skills! Read on to find out how to make valuable connections that will help you generate leads for your sales team.
Trade Show Tips: How To Network At The Show
Know your goals: We discussed coming up with a strategy in the first blog post in our trade show tips series, but it bears repeating: it’s important to know what your goals are.
There are a lot of opportunities to meet new people at a trade show. You’ll meet so many new faces that you could probably collect enough business cards to wallpaper your house. But you don’t want to just meet people, you want to make valuable contacts for your business and potentially meet your future favorite customers.
Knowing why you’re looking for new connections and what you want to learn from them will help you strike up more relevant conversations with the people you meet. But there’s a trick to it that will help you to become the most fascinating person in the room.
Know THEIR goals: That’s right. Remember that everyone you meet at the trade show is there with a purpose. Be sure to ask them about their goals at the show to see if you have something to offer them before you start hunting for the things you need. Even if you are not able to help them yourself, you may have just met someone who can. You raise your value in the eyes of the people you meet when you can connect them with the right people, and they’ll be more willing to help you afterwards.
Be a Social Butterfly: If you’re exhibiting, take some extra time to leave your booth with a colleague and introduce yourself to your neighbors and other attendees. If you’re attending with coworkers don’t spend all your time with them. Branching out will push you to meet new people and learn what they have to offer. Your ability to connect people with who and what they need —even if it doesn’t come from you or your company— will make you a valuable connection in their eyes. When you hook someone up, let them know what you’re looking for as well, and they’ll be more likely to help you find it.
Keep your schedule full, but not too full: Sign up for workshops and exhibitions that will help you meet your goals. Grab lunch with leads or new contacts in your industry. We recommend planning a schedule to fill up about 50% of your time there, but keep the other half flexible with more options. Sometimes the best opportunities aren’t in the brochure, so be sure to allow yourself some time to explore, find secret after parties, and follow the flow of the crowd.
Always get a card: Following up after the trade show is the only way to turn new network connections you make now into valuable contacts and leads later- make sure to get their business card or virtual card (make a LinkedIn connection from the floor)!
Take notes: Keep a list of the people you meet and what you discuss. This will allow you to keep your connections organized and will help you to qualify leads later. If something comes up in conversation that you want to follow up on after the show, write it down and keep it with their business card. That way you’ll remember which connections are thought leaders you want to stalk follow on social media, and which connections might be interested in purchasing your product.
Bonus trade show tip: LinkedIn has a section called the “relationship tab” on connections’ profiles where you can keep track of how you met a new them, what their goals are and any other useful details you can think of! Learn how to use it here.
If you have a booth, make sure your staffers keep track of any leads they meet, including what the lead was interested in. Does your sales team back home have certain questions they ask to qualify leads? For example, they may want you to note the lead’s job title or their company’s decision-making process. Keeping track of this information helps you go home with high-quality leads.
Make sure to keep track of those business cards you’re collecting, and enjoy the show! Stay tuned for our next post in the trade show tips series for advice on following up after you return home.