Trade show season is upon us and as experts in the expo space we thought this would be the perfect time to share some of our secrets for getting the most out of your trade show experience. From putting work in before the event, to following up after the event, here are some tips to help you get the most value out of your trade show experience!
Pre-show work: Have clear, attainable objectives for the show. Whether it be a specific amount of contacts you want to make at the show or amount of follow up meetings you schedule for after the show. Spend some time developing a game plan for meeting those objectives and identify key attendees you want to connect with at the show by researching attendee lists, sponsor logos, and social media.
PRO TIP: Download the event’s app (if one is available) as early as possible. You can often take advantage of the app’s networking features tied to LinkedIn profiles to pull attendee info in advance.
Don’t hide in your booth: Stand towards the front of your booth to appear approachable, and don’t bury yourself in your laptop or tablet. Position your table either at the back or the side of the booth to create a display surface without a barrier between yourself and your booth attendees. Stay off your phones as much as possible so you can make eye contact and engage with people as they approach your booth.
PRO TIP: Ditch the chairs. It puts you in a much better position to capture foot traffic as you will be at their eye level.
Get contact info and take notes for easy recall: Get a business card for every interesting person you speak with and jot down a quick note regarding what you spoke about. If they don’t produce a card, ask to take a pic of their badge so you can find them on LinkedIn after the show and connect the picture to a note on your phone.
PRO TIP: We use Trello and upload each business card or picture of a contact holding up their badge and add notes onto the card so we don’t have to interpret handwriting later.
BONUS PRO TIP: Bring a fine-point Sharpie for writing notes onto glossy business cards. A pen will leave you SOL.
Booth signage and presentation: Make sure your messaging looks neat and reflects your brand and key information. Keep your booth clean throughout the show and “reset” it periodically to the way it looked when you first started the day by removing food trash and other clutter that will accumulate (other booths may have really cool swag but you don’t have to advertise for them!).
PRO TIP: Take your breaks away from your booth and try to avoid eating onsite so you always appear to be ready for business.
Post-show follow-ups: Don’t wait more than a day or two to follow-up with people you meet at the show, and reference something you spoke about in the email to help with their recognition. (Strike while the iron is hot!) If you wait more than a couple of days, the drop-off in responses will be dramatic.
PRO TIP: BE SPECIFIC. For people with whom you had a great conversation, asking a smart question or including a tag-on to your in-booth discussion will help you stand out in the flood of follow-up emails the most sought-after contacts receive after a show.
BONUS PRO TIP: With Gmail’s new built-in scheduling feature, you can write your follow-up emails the night of the show or first thing the next morning while the conversations are fresh in your head, and schedule them to go out at the optimal time.