Making Great Connections at Conferences and Trade Shows

HandshakeWe all know that exhibiting at a trade show can be expensive. Therefore it is imperative that you implement good trade show practices so you do not waste the opportunity of bringing a bunch of qualified leads back to your office. Here are some critical things you should do to guarantee that your appearance is a success.

Plan Early and Set Goals

As soon as you decide to participate in the show you need to start thinking about how to make your appearance effective. The main thing is to figure out the types of attendees that are going to the show and how best to reach them. This will impact the design of your booth, collateral and even which staff you should send. If your audience is younger, you may want to use more high tech strategies, whereas with an older audience traditional paper collateral may still be effective.

More importantly, you need to set goals for the show. If your presence is about generating leads, then you need to establish some metrics. For example,

  • How many leads do you want to generate?

  • What percentage of those leads should be qualified (versus being newsletter list material?)

  • What total sales revenue resulting from the show do you wish to achieve?

Let Them Know that You are Going!

To make people want to meet with you, some excitement is necessary. Here are some things you can do to make people want to visit your booth:

  • Mention you are going to the show on your web page and social media channels. Use Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to generate enthusiasm about your appearance at the show.

  • If you are doing something noteworthy like releasing a new product, think about sending out a press release tied to the event.

  • If you can get the attendee list in advance, make sure to market your best prospects via phone, Email and social media.

Give the Personal Touch

On the trade show floor, the presentation of yourself and your staff is critical.

  • Make sure to dress for success! Look your best.

  • Don’t do all the talking – LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN!

  • Use the person’s name. Remember, everybody’s favorite word is their name!

  • Take photos of the activity at your booth – these make for great social media posts.

  • Keep a Great Record of Your Connections

    It is important that you keep good records of your conversations. Using great lead retrieval apps will make your life easier by:

    • Scanning the contact’s information directly into your device.

    • Keep notes of your conversations with the prospect.

    • Qualify your lead.

    • Let you browse your contacts at the show.

    • Easily download your contact logs into your CRM system.

    Be a Social Butterfly

    For events off the trade show floor, try to broaden your net and talk to people you might not normally reach. Even though the person might not necessarily be a lead, they may be a potentially valuable strategic partner or key influencer. You can even learn from your competition. Always be willing to reach out to someone who is alone – in most cases you will immediately come off as a friend.

    Nothing makes friends quicker than sharing the wealth. If you meet a person that is not a lead for you, think of somebody who could use the contact. That person will then want to return the favor!

    Follow Up

    All your good work at the trade show will be for naught if you do not have excellent show follow up.

    • Don’t let your business cards sit on your desk. Use your lead retrieval system to quickly get the data into your sales management tools.

    • Organize your leads in order of importance. If your time is tight, you can at least reach out to your priority contacts.

    • Use social media to build the relationships. Connect to your leads on LinkedIn and follow on Twitter.

    Trade show success does not happen by itself. You need a good process.