The beginning of the year always starts the annual trade show schedule. If you are anything like me, while you have the shows on your calendar they always seem to sneak up; and, are here before you know it. To keep with my New Year’s resolution to do more up-front planning and to be as prepared as possible I put together my list of the top things to do when working trade shows and broke it down before, during and after the event.
Before the trade show
Do your homework, yes that means make the time to spend on the trade show’s website to help you prepare to optimize your time out of the office. This will help you stretch your travel and investment dollars to get the most out of your bucks. Simply put, have a purpose.
Develop and write 1-2 goals you want to achieve and make it specific (i.e. meet the VP of Sales from XYZ Company; get an understanding of who’s making the decisions at a newly re-structured company).
Set up relevant meetings before-hand specifically with companies on the fence or that you have spoken with for a while and there is no movement forward. Don’t wait until you get to the trade show.
If the trade show is held in a prospect or customer HQ city, make an appointment to stop by their office and visit (after the show) but plan for it during you pre-show preparation.
During the trade show
Are you walking the show floor? The same logic kicks in. Map out your route. Make the floor work in your favor. This will help you see the most amount of companies possible in a limited amount of time.
Don’t get sidetracked. It’s easy to run into an old co-worker or a partner. Spend some time to get caught up but don’t get sidetracked because time flies by fast; and, the next thing you know you are behind schedule and there is no making up time at a trade show; so, make sure you allow time for these impromptu catch-ups.
Block out time on your calendar to talk to people you don’t know because you never know where a conversation can lead. Also, when attending large trade events that means there is opportunity to meet people in the elevators or taxi lines. You get my point. Don’t be shy strike up a conversation.
Always break bread with a customer or prospect. Be sure to have every meal hour full with appointments; and that means a drink before dinner. Spending uninterrupted time with a prospect or customer is a great way to REALLY get to know them.
After the trade show
Believe it or not, all leads generated at trade shows do not get follow-up post show for various reasons. Some of those reasons are valid. Just by following up on your leads you will outpace your competition. Here are some specific ideas.
Quick email asking for a brief follow-up call.
Connect with them on Social Media that means an invitation to LinkedIn, following them on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc.
Did you promise to send someone a bit of information or to make an e-introduction? Then do it!
But, most importantly when you get back in the office do all of your follow-up or time will slip by and you will be too embarrassed to follow-up. I learned that lesson the hard way.
Good luck on your preparation for each show; enjoy the time at the trade event and make sure you get the most out of it. Happy New Year!
Sonya Ruff Jarvis, is the Managing Member of Jarvis Consultants and the Founder of the eRetailer Summit and JC Event Group. Sonya has extensive experience in creating original innovative solutions to overcome major business challenges. Sonya has spent most of her career visiting headquarters across global industries and has built strong business relationships across diverse brands.
Sonya has a M.B.A. in Marketing. She is married and has a daughter and they live in Fairfield County Connecticut.
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