We previously talked about how to attend to a trade show and gave some advice on making it successful. Most of that involved planning and scheduling, but today we want to talk about some of the "softer" side of business — networking, meeting new people, etc. — and how you can use that to make your next trade show as cost effective and productive as possible.
1. Be bullish about follow up
How many times have you stopped by a booth and asked for a follow-up call, only to never hear from them again? Many people see a trade show as an interruption of their regular work, and everything they did during the show didn't take, because they were "on vacation." They get back to the office, and the stack of cards and contacts they need to call gets buried under the stack of work that's waiting for them, and they never do the follow up, missing out on possible sales. You may have important things to take care of when you return to work, but following up with your contacts needs to be top priority. Those contacts are the whole reason you went. If you're in sales, these people could set the tone for the rest of your year, so you can't let this slide. You may even want to start following up in your hotel room at the end of each day, just so you don't forget.
2. Ask people about solving other problems not related to them.
Let's say you need help with shipping your widgets because you're getting a lot of shipping damage. You happen to be in the booth of a favorite parts supplier, so you mention it to them. It just so happens they know someone who can help you. Maybe their marketing director used to work for a stretch wrapping company. Or the stretch wrapper sales rep was in the booth ten minutes before you. Or maybe they dealt with the very same issue you're facing, and can recommend a solution. You never know who will have a key piece of information to help you. And only trying to find the solution by yourself without asking for any help can waste a lot of time. Ask the people you meet if they can help with solutions. They could save you weeks or even months of searching.
3. Create your own luck
What are the odds that you meet only one person, and he or she has your next big sale or amazing opportunity? If it happens, buy a lottery ticket because when it comes to business success, the odds of that happening are very remote. Instead, you create your own luck.
That means meeting a lot of people, shaking a lot of hands, having a lot of conversations, and attending as many events as possible. If there are after-hours events, attend them. If there are conference mixers, mix in them. This is the only way you're going to meet this many people in one location. The more you talk to people and tell them what you're looking for, the more likely you'll meet someone who either has what you need or knows the person who does.
4. Recharge your batteries
Trade shows are hard work. You're on all the time, you need to keep your energy up, and you need to keep a smile on your face and talk until you're tired of it. Then you need to keep doing it.
It's especially hard for introverts, because meeting a bunch of new people is draining, and they need to be alone just to recharge their batteries. For the extroverts, it's the opposite. They hate being alone because it's draining, and being in a room full of people is just what they need to get going. Even so, they run down and get tired too. Find a time to unplug and relax. While this article is about pushing you to push yourself, that doesn't mean you should run yourself into the ground. Take some time before or after lunch (because you've hopefully got a lunch meeting) to find a quiet corner or lounge and relax for a bit. Put in some earbuds, listen to a little music, and close your eyes. After 20 – 30 minutes, you're ready to go again for the second half of your day.
While these lessons are important for any time of the year, whether you're in the office or on the road, a trade show is a compacted microcosm of what a typical month might be like at work. But now you've got all these new people you need to talk to and all this new information to digest. If you follow these four steps, you can get the most out of your efforts and make the trip a success.
Going to Pack Expo International 2013 in Las Vegas? Stop by our booth C-1314 and say hello. We'll be showcasing our stretch wrappers, case erectors, and shrink tunnels.
Looking for other ways to improve? Check out our 10-Step Process for Damage Reduction Through More Effective Stretch Wrapping. Our process will show you:
- How to reduce your shipping damage by 50%!
- The key elements of a stretch wrapping standard!
- How to manage containment force - stretch wrapping's most critical component!
Click here to read a related blog: How to Plan To Attend a Trade Show
This post was published on August 27, 2013 and updated on July 31, 2017.