With the new year already here, you may be looking at ways to bring your business to the next level. One way to do that is by visiting trade shows. Attending industry tradeshows, like the ones put on by your company, Board or Association can provide excellent value to your business. However, they can also take up part to a whole day, and you can come away from them overwhelmed and with no new business connections. That’s not good for anyone. To help you make the most of the next tradeshow you attend, try planning ahead of time, making notes at the show and following up.
Plan in Advance
• Look at your business and ask yourself questions like: What areas do you need help with? Who do you need to add to your Rolodex as a partner? What do you do well? What can you delegate?
• Now, take a look at the exhibitor list. Then sort the booths into three categories: Must-See (those that will solve a problem), Would Like to See (those that could help you out now or in the future) and Pass Over (they aren’t related to your business or don’t fulfil a business need or want.)
• Time is of the essence at a tradeshow, so use the floor plan to determine where you will head first, second, etc. Plan the Must See’s first, the Would Like to See’s second and then the Passes. Knowing where you need to be will help you from lingering at booths you don’t need to see just because they’re handing out a neat fidget spinner.
At the Show
• Before you head out, remember to pack lots of business cards, a pen and a notepad.
• Arrive early in the day or in the last hour or two of the show – most tradeshows are slow at the start of the day, progressively get busier and then thin out at the end of the day.
• At each Must See/Like to See booth, ask if information can be sent to you after the show. This way, you don’t have to carry it around, and you’re more likely to look at it if it’s not a part of the “tradeshow bundle” you accumulate. Feel free to give them your business card!
• Take notes after each booth so you remember what you liked and what you needed more information on.
• Also, make a note if you weren’t able to get to a particular booth you wanted to see. You can always phone the company or look on their website after the show for more information.
• Network, but limit the time you spend chatting with friends. You’re there to make new connections – you can grab a coffee with your friend another day.
After the Show
• Expect companies to call or email you in the weeks following the show. Have your notes handy so you can ask any questions you may have come up with or start working with those companies you connected with.
• Pay attention to your email. Companies may send exclusive offers to those that stopped by their booth.
• Follow up with companies you missed and call those you want to start working with. Being proactive can save you time and help you solve your needs sooner so you can grow your business.