Tradeshows can be great networking events, but only if you’re using the correct approach. By wandering around aimlessly or merely grabbing handfuls of business cards, there won’t be as much return on investment as you could possibly get from tradeshows. Here are some tips on making the most of all the networking opportunities at tradeshows.
Preparation is necessary to ensure successful networking, but you don’t need to invest too much time in research. Look at the event material and find a few people you’d like to meet. From your list, be sure to understand not only why you’d like to meet them, but also how you can be of value to them too.
Finding ways to be valuable to the people you meet will go a long way in cementing relationships. It doesn’t have to be through your business, it can be through knowledge, connections, and even other resources. Brush up on some books, research a few articles and find useful websites that you can share with fellow attendees and you’ll be showing others that you are a resource. Plus, these resources are easy talking points that you can fall back on if you get stuck.
Preparation through research is great, but the best way to get ready for a networking event is to get your mind to relax. Stressed out people aren’t fun to converse with and you might end up missing out on great connections if you’re overly anxious and difficult to approach.
Get to the event early and stay as late as you can. This will give you opportunities to network with the largest group of people as well as volunteers, organizers, and sponsors who pitch up at these events early and leave only after all the attendees have left.
Keep interactions polite and professional, and try to meet with different attendees. It might be tempting to spend time with only a few individuals who you feel comfortable with, but that will only limit your potential interactions.
Ask questions that are interesting and open-ended to allow for real connections. A business card can tell you what someone does, a conversation can form a connection. If you ask questions that allow people to share and think a little deeper, they will most likely remember you and the interaction they’ve had with you.
If you do collect-a-business-card from someone, make notes of why you took it (especially if you promised a follow up). It will show that you are interested and will give them the assurance that you mean to create a lasting connection.
Networking doesn’t stop when the tradeshow or event is over, and following up is often just as important as the actual event attendance. It’s always a good idea to show up to serve first by adding value to your connection without expecting anything in return.
Don’t expect direct results from any conversations you’ve had, but set up reminders to follow up on important connections over a period of time. Social media can be a great tool for following up after an event, but your interactions need to be authentic and brief on social media platforms. If any contacts gave you permission to email them, reach out with a brief, sincere message and ask them to stay in touch with you.
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING
“The only show you will need to attend this year”