When it comes to networking
opportunities, trade shows provide one of the best venues. Here is
the one place where everyone in your industry congregates for a few
short days and is focused on one thing –
Over the last few years we have seen a significant drop in the number of people who
attend shows while the quality of those who do come has risen. This
is important news for an exhibitor or a visitor who wants to meet
and greet those often inaccessible industry people.
These are the same people you have left countless unanswered telephone and E-mail
messages for. These may be the same people who will ultimately decide
on the purchase of your product or service. There will be the movers
and shakers – people who have their finger on the pulse of your industry.
All you need to do is be prepared.
Here are a few tips on preparing your networking activities for your next trade show.
1. Define your objective. Be really clear about what you want to accomplish whether
it’s meeting decision makers, product experts, industry gurus, forecasters
or people who work for your competitors. Ask yourself, “What do I
want to accomplish with these people?” If you want to learn more about
your industry for example, take this statement a step further and
ask, “What specifically?”
2. Make a list of the people you want to meet and the most likely place to meet them. This will include such places as receptions, on the show floor, at participating hotels,
during industry events such as meetings, banquets and sporting events
or at a lecture.
3. Attempt to reach these people ahead of time to
set up a pre-arranged meeting. This is a great idea because the people
that you want to meet, just like you, are busy and have full schedules.
4. Develop a list of questions. Rather than leaving the meeting to
chance it’s always better to spend a bit of time preparing the questions
ahead of time. Questions like the one in Step 1 – “What specifically?”
5. Recording information. Bring a notebook, to record the information
you are gathering.
6. Bring your business cards. Its simply good business
etiquette to exchange business cards during a business meeting. Having
this contact’s card also gives you their vital statistics so you can
get in touch with them after the show in case you have additional
questions or need some clarification on the information they gave
7. Thank them. Not only after the meeting is over but immediately
after the show. It’s good business practice to send an E-mail or letter
thanking them for the time they spent with you and the value their
8. Look for opportunities to add information of your
own. During your face to face meetings you may stumble across bits
of information the person you are meeting with may be looking for.
Here is a great chance to give something back to the conversation.
But, be careful and avoid gossip. Keep the information you are sharing
factual and positive. Sometimes we get so focused on setting up an
exhibit or planning a trip we neglect the power we can cultivate with
a strong network. Put these eight simple steps to work at your next
show and reap the rewards that come from adding networking to your