With several trade shows on the horizon for telecom agents, we wanted to share some insights into taking full advantage of them. As you know, tradeshows are an investment in your business (sometimes a BIG investment), so having these points in mind will help you have the best experience possible.
1) Be prepared!
Plan your trade show strategy in advance to make the most of your experience. Coordinate with your team to make sure you clearly understand the show schedule and who needs to be where at each given time. You may want to “divide and conquer” having different people attend sessions while others walk the trade show floor. If you attend by yourself, make sure to divide your time to meet the most people. And of course, make sure you have plenty of business cards, brochures, or anything else you may want to hand out to potential prospects and partners.
2) Begin working the tradeshow in advance.
Check the website of the trade show to determine what companies are exhibiting, and join the LinkedIn group for the show if available to see who will be attending. Begin networking and planning meetings in advance so you don’t walk into the trade show “cold.” The most effective shows are often the ones where you are continuously tied up in meetings with actual partners or potential partners.
3) Leverage your current network.
Let people know you will be attending the trade show, and ask them to connect you with people who might be a good fit for you. They say there are “six degrees of separation” between people, but at a trade show it’s more likely to be one or two. Here are some ways to let people know you’re attending:
• Register early
• Take advantage of any online groups the show may offer (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.)
• Include an announcement in your regular newsletter
• Update your website to include an announcement
• Write a blog about why you’re attending the show and who you’d like to meet
• Reach out to your current customers and partners by phone or email
4) Get out of your comfort zone!
Some conferences and trade shows can be somewhat daunting. There is so much going on and so many people to meet. It can sometimes be tempting to stick with the people and activities you already know and are comfortable with. To make the most of your time at a trade show, take some risks and step out of the proverbial box. Introduce yourself to strangers, attend workshops you wouldn’t normally be interested in, and make sure to attend the mixers, parties and other social functions. You will be surprised at how open people are to making new connections, and that amazing new opportunity may be hiding where you least expect it!
5) Take notes.
There’s nothing worse than returning from an amazing trade show only to stare at a large stack of business cards and wonder who was who. To avoid this, you may want to develop an easy system for marking the cards you receive (“1” for hot leads, “2” for longer term leads, “P” for potential partners, etc.). Just make sure you discreetly mark every card so your follow-up will be fast and effective.
Power Tip: Check out Field Notes for a new, simple, and discrete method to take notes at the tradeshow. Look at field notes here.
Tell us: what other strategies do you use when attending trade shows? What shows are you planning on attending this spring? We would love to hear your feedback in the comments.