By Angela Leavitt
Trade shows are a great way to connect with current and potential customers, establish partnerships, and further establish your brand. Yet, many people make costly mistakes when attending and/or exhibiting at a trade show. Follow these six tips to ensure you make the most of your trade-show experience.
- Bring lots of business cards. Seems silly right? Totally obvious? Well you'd be surprised how many people run out and then are scrambling to write their info on other cards or pieces of paper. When you don't have cards on you, it makes you look silly, and people don't want to do business with people who are unprepared.
- Dress to impress! Another point that seems obvious, but many people walk around trade shows in jeans and flip-flops and then wonder why they didn't get any good leads. If you're just there to collect cool giveaways, wear whatever you want. But if you're there to get leads that could turn into customers, dress the part.
- Be interested. When you approach someone you want to connect with, don't vomit your sales pitch all over them. Express some interest in what they do first. Get to know them and their company and try to uncover some of their pain points if you can. Once you've expressed enough interest in what they are all about, they will almost always reciprocate and ask you similar questions.
- Don't be a time hog. There are a lot of activities surrounding trade shows and everyone is there to meet a lot of people and make many connections. With that in mind, be aware of how much time you spend with each person. Once you've gathered the info you need to follow up and establish a friendly rapport, move on to the next person. Also watch for body language. If the person is looking around or shifting their weight, it's probably time to move on.
- Take notes! This is important. Keep a pen with you and take notes when you meet someone. Maybe on the back of their card, maybe in a separate notebook. It doesn't matter where, just do it. If you don't, you will end up staring at a large, confusing stack of business cards when you return, not able to remember who people are.
- Spread the word. Use your social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and others to connect with people prior to, during and after the trade show. Some shows have a dedicated Twitter hash tag, or LinkedIn forum, so be sure to take full advantage of those opportunities as well as the face-to-face meetings.
Angela Leavitt is the chief mojo-making officer for Mojo Marketing . With more than 10 years of experience in sales and marketing, and nearly five years in the telecom channel, Angela helps telecom companies design and execute effective strategies for social media, PR, branding, Web development and more.