It is easy to feel like that fish out of the water at trade shows. There is no reason you cannot overcome this, even if it is your first trade show. Engaging in relationships and networking at trade shows should be as important to you as it is to your company.
How do you want to feel at a trade show? Like the sports team captain or the outsider who scribbles alone in the corner? We already know the answer: that's why we provide you with ten essential tips so you can get the best out of networking at trade shows.
1. Don't be surprised:
Study beforehand who the attendees of the event are, especially the companies you are most interested in making contact with. Who are their CEOs, communication managers, and marketing team? Who should you approach? Also, check if someone will participate in an event when the fair is taking place, such as a public talk or a presentation. It's a way to make sure you'll bump into that person in the chaos of a trade show.
2. Identify your customers:
Review the user analytics on your website, app, social networks, or online store if you have an eCommerce business. Create potential customer profiles, and you should see if you can find these profiles among the trade show attendees. Should you seek the attention and interest of adult men over forty, young people in their twenties, or female entrepreneurs? Investigate every possible combination to avoid wasting any networking time on the wrong demographic.
3. Business cards at hand:
Have enough business cards with your contact details and company information and store them in an easy-to-reach pocket where they can be accessed elegantly. Likewise, every time you receive a card from another person, immediately put it in another pocket to not mix them up with your cards and give the impression of being a networking novice.
4. Social media focus:
Add people you just met as contacts or send them invitations via their social media profiles. This doubles the probability of being accepted or them following you back and remembering you. Once you've done this, it becomes much easier to engage in digital conversation or schedule an appointment, call, or meeting, now that the effect of networking is 'hot.'
5. Choose the right moment:
It's better to have a conversation or a meeting in a specific place rather than in your booth or the middle of a crowded corridor at the trade show. Get to know the rest areas or meeting points if there are any at the fair venue, or reserve a small space in your own area to offer a more welcoming and private networking experience to your contacts and customers. If you still prefer your booth, then check out our tips for a creative trade show booth.
6. Set time aside:
It's common to intend to visit the entire trade show and, in the end, not have enough time to network because commitments or unexpected tasks keep you at your booth or even outside the fair venue. Pre-schedule your activities, meal times, and transportation time if the venue is far away (and if you still feel overwhelmed, here you have 20 tips for successful trade show management).
7. Sign up for everything:
People tend to adopt a more aggressive business mentality in the booths area. There are more opportunities to build connections and engage in networking in a more relaxed manner during activities organized in the trade show, whether they are conferences, cocktails, or leisure time.
8. Expand your network:
It's easy to stay within your circle of acquaintances and hope that you will make new second or third-degree contacts from them. Be brave and start conversations with strangers and people outside of your usual networking circle, provided you have done your homework, know who is who, and choose the right moment to do so.
Why does everyone want to talk to Barack Obama or Bill Clinton, regardless of their political beliefs? Networking at trade shows charismatically involves being warm, without being intrusive and over the top, maintaining an open attitude, being ready to listen, asking questions, and demonstrating a genuine interest in the other person. If you are interested, they too will be interested. Offer them help before you offer them your business card, talk about gaps in their schedule or prices, and everything else will follow.
10. Don't forget the competition:
A trade show is also useful for checking up on what's going on in your own business sector and seeing the latest trends. Entrust your team to collect all the information and possible materials about other companies attending the fair by visiting their booths and keeping their ears open. To network effectively, it is just as important to know who you want to have as friends as underboothing who you don't want to reveal your secrets.
Not everything is about networking
After these ten tips to break the ice, you have thought about the importance of trade shows in any marketing plan.
These commercial actions require time and effort, but not only during the event days. That's why planning and organization will always become your best friend!
Are you a marketing professional who wants to network more strategically? Apply for a membership with SYP.net today and contact us anytime!
Agatowski, T. (2019, December 3). 10 tips to make your trade show stand a success. Medium. Retrieved April 1, 2022, from bettermarketing.pub/10-tips-to-make-your-trade-show-stand-a-success-a0628e176856
Muñoz, A. (n.d.). Networking at trade shows: 10 tips to break the ice. Sales Layer Blog. Retrieved April 1, 2022, from blog.saleslayer.com/networking-at-trade-shows-10-tips-to-break-the-ice