While business development is evolving quickly through new media, old methods of lead development are still vitally important to companies. This is why at some point in your professional career you might attend or exhibit at a conference and/or trade show. We’ve put together a few tips on how to get the most out of your experience, whether exhibiting, or just attending, a trade show.
1. Get to know the people putting on the conference and trade show.
A trade show will either be run by the company or organization the show is named after, or this company will hire an organization “behind” a trade show. These silent trade show companies are essentially event management companies that specialize in taking care of all of the planning logistics. The people working for these companies have an incredibly stressful schedule in the weeks and months leading up to the show. Identifying the key players in the conference or trade show is usually as easy as calling the trade show number, or looking through the contacts in an email. Once you discover the originating email touch point, offer some kind of assistance (like offering to show up early to help check-in the first day) that will make their lives just a bit easier. If you are exhibiting at a trade show, this kind of offer might just “buy” you a better booth location, or, at the least, will encourage trade show organizers to push people to your booth. If attending, you’ll have the basis of a great relationship—a relationship that has relationships with every exhibitor and has contacts in every company attending. Need a reference or professional connection? These people are a great resource for those.
2. Focus on the right contacts.
There is so much going on in such a short time period at a conference and trade show that people often fail to focus, resulting in a diminished return for the effort of attendance. You should attend the sessions that make the most sense to your specific career—do not get distracted by the sessions that sound “cool” or the ones that your co-workers/friends are going to because you don’t want to go alone. When spending time interacting with others, focus on getting to know the thought leaders—those people leading discussion forums and classes. A good way to do this is to send them a message after Day 1 of the conference on LinkedIn, telling them how much you loved their session/would love to meet them, and try to arrange to connect on Day 2 of the conference.
3. Visiting the right booths.
When walking around the trade show floor, don’t spend time in a booth that doesn’t add value. The first thing to do after you register is to check the attendee roster, and make a list of booths you need to visit. Never spend more than 5-10 minutes in a booth, and hit as many booths as you can. Hit the priority booths first, then hit the “maybes.” At the end of the conference, spend time in the booths you hadn’t considered beforehand that might offer some value. We recommend taking a small notebook, and making a few notes on each booth after your conversation with them. You’d be surprised how much you forget after meeting 100 new people.
At our company, Khraze, we believe that LinkedIn is becoming the 24/7 trade show. But for the next few years, trade shows will continue to be an integral part of business. That is why we attend and exhibit at them, despite our new media brand. By following these tips, you may discover that the 12 hour conference days actually supercharge your business development.
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