Time well-spent at a business expo
Posted on 25th October 2023
As an exhibitor
Be focused. You’ll be busy on the day of the event, setting up your stand and engaging with your target audience. It’s important to set yourself clear and realistic targets and to avoid distractions. Some delegates will want to sell to you or arrange sales meetings. Make it clear that this isn’t your focus for the day. Suggest they take a business card or brochure and call later – you can choose whether to speak with them.
Network. You’ll need to visit break out areas for coffee or lunch throughout the day. Take full advantage of opportunities to network with all the interesting people you’ll meet there.
Offer prizes and gifts. You can gain useful contacts for the future by collecting delegate business cards for entry in a prize draw. Make sure your prize is appropriate and relevant to your business. Alternatively, offer gifts that will attract people to your stand. It takes some thought to choose something that reflects what you do and is attractive for your visitors.
As a delegate
Attend presentations. Good business events and shows offer carefully chosen speakers, seminars or workshops. These give delegates and exhibitors opportunities to hear from experts and to gain new perspectives. Choose the sessions you want to attend and arrive five or 10 minutes in advance to get a good seat.
Tour the exhibition. In between presentations walk around the exhibitors at least twice. It’s surprising what you’ll miss on your first circuit. You can also bump in to some very interesting people doing the same thing. Take plenty of business cards with you to share and ask for theirs in return. However, resist the temptation to start your sales pitch there and then.
Research the exhibitors. You have an ideal opportunity to meet experts and professionals who can help your business or career. Study the exhibition guide to identify some key people you would like to speak with. Take the opportunity to ask if there’s anyone else they think you should meet too. If your competitors are exhibiting you can find out more about how they present themselves.
Take part in competitions. You can often drop off your business card to take part in exciting prize draws. The follow up call from the exhibitor is your chance to explain how your products and services could benefit them.
Invite a colleague. You don’t have to attend business shows and events alone. It can be more enjoyable if you’re joined by a work colleague or networking contact. You can exchange views on what you see and hear and make sure you don’t miss anything important.
For everyone – share and follow up!
If you have a professional social media account share your impressions while you’re at the event. There’s often a dedicated hashtag you can use to give your profile a boost with extra likes and shares. Ask for private messages if any other delegates would like to meet you for a coffee. You can also use the LinkedIn ‘Find Nearby’ feature to discover others at the event and connect with them to grow your professional network.
Remember, attending a business expo is just the first step. Whether you’re an exhibitor or a delegate you are sure to meet some interesting people. Don’t let the experience stop there.
Allocate time immediately after the event to send a message thanking your new contacts for their time. You might share a few thoughts about what you learnt to show your genuine interest. Invite them to contact you or suggest a one-to-one meeting for a more in-depth discussion.
If you have discovered new ideas or products at the event, do some research to find out more. Visit the social media profiles of speakers you heard and thank them for their insights – you might start and interesting dialogue.
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