How to Make the Most of Attending Trade Shows This Season
Every spring, businesses pack up and head to tradeshows and conferences to learn and to network. It requires a lot of time, money, and effort. But with these tips, you can make the most of this upcoming trade show season, even if you don’t exhibit.
Before the show starts, you have work to do. First, look at getting any available speaking or panel slots for some free publicity and thought leadership. While most opportunities are reserved six months in advance, some last-minute slots do become available, so contact the organizers now with your pitch.
Second, investigate sponsorship opportunities. Many shows offer smaller sponsorships like lanyard branding ideal for small businesses. Check with them now to investigate what’s available.
Finally, proactively reach out to customers you think or know will be attending. Set up times to meet and chat about potential work and consider sponsoring their ticket so they’re sure to attend.
Many make the mistake of going to a show’s general sessions and breakouts. Don’t be one of them. To get the ROI on your time and effort, spend your time networking instead. Create a pitch about your business that focuses on the business value you deliver clients. Practice the pitch and then use it at networking events. You’ll find more partners and clients than if you spent your time at every session.
Tip: put the business cards of hot sales leads into one pocket and put all the others in the other pocket. As soon as you can, write down specific things you talked about on the back of the lead’s card and follow up with them as soon as you can.
Just because you’ve packed up and left the tradeshow or conference doesn’t mean you’re done. Far from it. To see the value of the time and money you spent, you’re going to have to follow up with all the leads you got while you were networking. And you’ll want to do it within a week, while your name and face are still fresh in your contact’s mind.
The second value you’ll get from the show is to make it the source of new content. Create a blog or vlog from what you learned, trends you saw, and other insights.
Shows do require a bit of work, but with a little preparation and focus on driving new business, you’re sure to make the most of this tradeshow season.