ATTENDING A TRADE SHOW: HOW TO ENSURE THE MAXIMUM BENEFITS

tradeshow

Do you get the most out of the trade show’s you attend? Do you leave satisfied? Are you inspired? Have you met at LEAST one person via networking that you feel like you can collaborate with at some point?

If the answer is ‘No’ then we have some work to do.

Trade shows, when chosen correctly, are an opportunity for you to gain valuable trade show experience, knowledge, product exposure and trends, they can help spark your creative and can align you with like-minded professionals.  “When chosen correctly” being key. You can’t expect to meet an apple at an orange fair… catch my drift?

Choose trade shows that are relevant in your industry. Local trade shows are great to connect with vendors (and potential clients) in your area, but if you have to travel for a well-known show (and have it in your budget) then do your research and consider the advantages- if any. You need to choose trade shows that will help you reach your business goals! If your goal is more sales? Choose a show that will feature new products for you to offer! If your goal is to scope out the competition? Do your research and make sure they are attending. If you simply want to network? Choose a show that is offering seminars and breakout room speakers. Like anything in business, do your research and make sure it fits.

So you know what show(s) you want to attend but don’t know how to make the most of them? Here are some tips to help you out:

Pre-register

  • You will get updates on the show. You should also follow the show using their social media outlets to stay up to date.
  • You might even save a few bucks if you’re an early bird

Have an objective for attending

  • What do you want to achieve?
  • How will you measure the return on your investment?

Bring business cards

  • You would be surprised how easily that is overlooked

Take other people’s business cards

  • Make notes on them. Bring a fine point sharpie to write the notes on the cards because some people still feel the need to gloss both sides and your regular pen won’t write on it. No your pen isn’t broken… it just can’t write on gloss.

Know who is exhibiting and plan out who you want to spend the most time with and start with them.

  •  If the show starts at 10am? Be there at 10am. Fashionably late doesn’t work very well when you want to absorb their morning enthusiasm. Also make sure that the vendors don’t work by appointment- if they do? Then make one in advance.
  • Download a map of the trade show floor- it should be found on their site
  • Think of what you want to ask who- having your questions prepared in advance will ensure you don’t miss anything
  • Even though you are going in with a hit-list? Don’t forget about the little guys. Startups can surprise you and their hunger can’t usually be matched by corporate. They need your business and (sometimes- I don’t want to say always and you hold me to it!) they will work hard to keep it.

If you are attending with colleagues

  • Split up to gain more ground and fill each other in. This also goes for seminars. Spilt the sessions and gather as much information as you can.
  • Don’t be a “free seminar” snob. Take advantage of them. Just because YOU THINK you know everything there is on a subject? Chances are you don’t and will learn at least one new thing.

If you are attending a multi-day trade show

  • Book close to the venue. You will appreciate the ability to move back and forth easily- whether it is to rest, review and recoup? Or to simply unload information. Maybe you don’t want to lug around every piece of info with you all day.

Remember that trade shows aren’t open 24 hours.

  • Use your time wisely- even if it’s spread out over a couple days- use your time wisely.

Don’t avoid eye contact.

  • You will see what I mean- every exhibitor is waiting for the second your eyes meet to pounce their pitch on you… Don’t be afraid.  You may THINK you don’t want to talk to the exhibitor, but a quick conversation could lead to anything. It’s a small world after all.

Don’t rush out when the trade show ends

  • Perhaps there is a networking event you can attend? Usually there is a mixer following the show… whether or not it’s public? I don’t know. But ask.

Last but not least, remember to stay open minded and enjoy yourself! You will be more approachable and absorb more information if you are relaxed and stress free.

Seems like a lot of work? Well, it is if you do it right.

The Elevator Pitch: How to make it count.

Elevator Pitch

You get on an elevator at the 10th floor. Going down you are face to face with an opportunity to sell your business. Someone said hi and asked what you do. What do you say? How can you sum up what you offer in half a minute? Where do you start? You only have 20-30 seconds until the ride is over and if you aren’t prepared? You lose your chance.

Just as you finally get all of your thoughts together *DING* ground floor, and you watch your could-be client walk away.

Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen.

“The elevator pitch” gets its name from the length of the explanation. You should be able describe what you offer in a short period of time. You need to be able to spark enough interest to make a connection and be able to follow up. The pitch isn’t limited to an elevator of course- it can be for sales, to drive traffic to your website, explain what you do for a living and prep potential clients. It’s a good thing to have in your back pocket for just an occasion.

To start: Introduce your company and ask yourself how you want to be remembered by your audience. Include who your target markets is and how you provide value for your clients… what makes you stand out? Finish your pitch with an open ended question if possible (one that involves more than a yes or no) to include them in your conversation.

For example: If you are a travel agency:

“We are a full service, family oriented travel agency- we book your flight, hotel, car- we even book your excursions on the resort in advance. We pre-approve payment plans to help make it more affordable and offer heavily discounted last minute vacations. When was the last time you took a vacation?”

You need to get to the point and you need to make sure the delivery sounds natural (even though it isn’t…) Nobody wants to deal with the cheesy car salesman/woman…person. Also, make sure you always have your business cards on you and easily accessed.

How to Be a Better Networker

networking

Love it or hate it? You should do it.

Networking events are a great opportunity to mingle with likeminded people and industry professionals. Everyone is there for the same reason which takes that pressure off but you need to understand that the little details matter and don’t go unnoticed.

Here are my top ten networking tips:

1) Attend the right networking events

You can’t expect to meet the right people in the wrong places. Make sure that the networking event that you choose to attend meshes with your product/service/goals in some way. You don’t want to waste your time and other people’s time.

2) Have business cards on you

Simple. Always carry cards! (Or keep them in your car)

Also- When you are given a card, make a note on the back to help you remember the connection and conversation. I even write personal details such as family mentions or an upcoming move. Why? So that when I follow up with the connection they will appreciate my memory (they don’t have to know about my notes- it’s the thought that counts).

3) Dress the part

Dress for the event but always lean towards a professional appearance. Use your common sense and feel out the venue and invitation. Some networking hosts will write the dress code on the invite/ in the events details. Wear something that you feel comfortable in and reflects who you are- just look put together a.k.a professional.

4) Have your elevator speech ready

An elevator speech is a two minute breakdown of what it is you do/ can offer. You want to be able to sum it up quickly so you don’t miss any important points and you keep the persons attention long enough to finish what you want to say.

5) Don’t be afraid to go alone

It’s not a party at a stranger’s house where everyone knows each other and you’re the outsider- everyone in the networking room is the outsider. Most of the people that you will be interacting with throughout the event will be attending solo as well. If you are shy, I assure you that with practice and proper preparation you will gain confidence.

6) CONFIDENCE

Some people can smell fear a mile away and aren’t attracted to it. So lift up your head, have good posture a firm handshake, practice good eye contact and welcoming body language. Introduce yourself using your first and last name and be sure to ask theirs. Remember that you are just as deserving as everyone else in that room! You need to believe that because it will shine through.

7) Smile

This could have been placed under confidence but I believe it needs its own heading. Research has reported that smiling releases endorphins, which are natural pain relievers, along with serotonin, which is also associated with feel good properties.

All in all- Smiles are contagious and welcoming!

Practice right now- BIG SMILE…………………………………………….feels good, right?

8) You don’t have to have all of the answers

You can say “I am not sure; let me follow up with you on that”. It is a lot better than BS’ing your way through the conversation (most times, the person you are feeding the lies to? Knows you are lying.) Keep in mind that arrogance is not an attractive characteristic. Be an expert not a know-it-all and remember to LISTEN twice as much as you talk.

9) Be positive

No bad mouthing. No gossip. No swear words and no bullying. Keep everything on the up and up. When people ask how your day was? Say “GREAT!” because they don’t need to hear otherwise… They were only asking to be polite. They are strangers and don’t need to hear about all the bad things that happened to you before you showed up. Call a friend for that.

10) Follow Up

Send a short note to the individuals that you connected with at the event. If you said that you would send information- then send it. Use the notes that you wrote on the back of your cards to keep track of who and what.

Not every networking event is going to run smoothly. You aren’t always going to connect with the nicest people and not everyone will believe in you or your ideas AND THAT IS OK. Please don’t take it to heart. Even the most genius of entrepreneurs will tell you countless stories of being shunned and it will happen to you too… but you can’t let it stop you.

You pick up, dust off and you take their criticism in one of two ways. One being constructive- can you learn something from it? And the second being of a malicious nature- that you can disregard.

If someone simply said “No” they have no need for your service/product? That isn’t a reflection of you as a person, don’t look too much into it. It is most times THAT straight forward- they just don’t need your service/product.

Do you have any networking tips to share? Please do in the comment section below!

-Crystal Lengua-