Are you planning on going to a trade show in the next few months?
No matter if you’re attending a trade show for the first time or your company is exhibiting at one for the twentieth time, it will be an incredibly valuable experience. Opportunities are abundant for networking, acquiring business leads, and promoting your business.
To help make your experience the best possible, we’ve put together 50 pieces of advice on how to be successful at trade shows, from how to plan before the show, how to stay healthy and act professional throughout the show, and how to successfully wrap up after the show’s over.
To get you started, here are 10 pieces of advice taken from our downloadable white paper. Make sure you don’t miss out on all 50 tips and tricks; simply download our white paper at the end of this post.
#1: Set specific goals
As with anything in life, you’ll want to approach the trade show with clearly defined objectives, both at a business level and a personal level. Set goals that are measurable, timely, and precise, yet also realistic and attainable.
Broad goals such as enhancing company awareness and effectively promoting a new company message are good places to start. Also include quantifiable and logistical objectives like establishing a certain amount of qualified leads, generating a certain amount of revenue, or meeting a certain amount of new key clients.
#2: Wear comfy shoes
Trade shows involve long hours of standing and walking around, so you’ll want to make sure that you wear (or have on hand) comfortable shoes that won’t leave your feet aching 10 hours later.
You don’t necessarily have to sacrifice the fashion or professional aspect either – invest in some cushiony insoles or custom orthotic inserts to put in the work shoes you normally wear to provide your feet with the comfort they need on those long days.
#3: Healthy mealtime choices
Depending on the type of trade show you’re going to, the food selections at any provided meals may differ greatly. We’d like to think that all trade shows provide their exhibitors with healthy choices, but that’s not always the case.
Given the options at your trade show meals, try to load up on as many fruits and veggies as you can, in addition to lean proteins like fish, chicken, and turkey. These foods will keep you fuller (and more awake) longer than processed foods loaded with sugars, carbs, and fat.
#4: Confidence through body language
People can tell a lot from how you’re standing or how you’re looking at them, and you want to make sure that you’re approachable.
It’s important that you sit or stand up straight, relax your shoulders, and don’t cross your arms or legs, which may come across as guarded or defensive. Make consistent eye contact (although don’t stare – that may creep people out) and keep your head up.
Engage with the people you’re talking to by smiling, laughing, and/or nodding at what they’re saying. Most of all, keep a positive attitude, because that will come across through your body language.
#5: Stay connected
Internet may or may not be readily available at the trade show location, and even if it is, there’s no guarantee that you will be able to be connected the whole time.
Consider having your company invest in a wireless hotspot device that will allow you to keep your booth’s laptops and tablets connected to the web at all times.
#6: Know the agenda
Most trade shows provide exhibitors with copies of the event schedule. These can be quickly lost or forgotten about, so it’s best to print out a trade show agenda beforehand to have ready for easy reference.
Also make sure that you have a printed copy of your personal agenda, containing the dates, times, and contact information for people you are scheduled to meet with. In case your phone or tablet dies or the internet connection is non-existent, you want to make sure that you have this information on hand.
#7: Take notes for future reference
Each and every day, take notes of how things are progressing at your booth.
Are certain ways of talking to people more efficient than others? Are the questions attendees ask important points of concern that your company should address? What can you do differently so that tomorrow is an even more successful day? Who did you talk to and need to follow up with?
Capturing your thoughts throughout the day will make the future a whole lot easier than trying to look back and remember what you were thinking.
#8: Benefits of using social media at a trade show: it’s about the people
Trade shows can be a fantastic place to accomplish some, if not all, of the following:
- Grow your social following – both people and businesses are looking to engage with you, and the same goes for your online presence before, during, and after the show
- Connect with professionals in your industry
- Generate leads
#9: Form quality connections
When it comes to networking, keep in mind: quality over quantity.
Rather than talking to a bunch of people but not truly getting to know them, form solid bonds with those you network with, and make it a point to talk to them again when you can. Building strong, quality connections will be mutually beneficial to you, your company, and others in the long run.
#10: Follow up
You’ve heard it before and we will say it again – it’s important that you follow up with the connections that you made at the trade show. These new contacts are not only valuable leads or business associations to have, but they could prove to be lifelong company friends as well.
Stay in touch often through email or phone correspondence, and watch your business relationship grow.