Trade shows are all about connecting with people – making eye contact, shaking hands and talking face-to-face. With a little planning, you can make the most of your networking time outside of published trade show hours. Networking both on and off the showroom floor allows you to build relationships with potential customers, other vendors, and show management.
Plan Where to Go and Who to Meet
Seminars, workshops, special events – these are great opportunities to network, so give yourself plenty of time to arrive early and leave late. Find out which industry leaders, innovators, potential referral partners are likely to be at different events, so you can create opportunities to connect with the people you most want to meet.
Perfect Your Elevator Pitch
“What do you do?” It’s the question you’ll hear again and again as you network, so always be ready with a clear, compelling and concise answer. Prepare a 20-30 second response that includes your key benefits and the people you help. End your pitch with an open-ended question to engage the listener and keep the conversation going. Don’t be shy about practicing in advance – you answer will feel (and sound) much more natural and engaging.
Train Your Staff to Shine
Your booth staff is on the front lines – so prepare them well for the many interactions they’ll have with potential customers. Make a list of appropriate responses to questions to help them represent the company well, both on and off the floor. Give them a show schedule, including networking events, so they can self-start and take advantage of educational workshops related to their field.
Strike Up a Conversation
Virtually every interaction is an opportunity to connect – whether you’re heading for the trade show floor or standing in line for the restroom. Make it your goal to meet as many new people as possible. While we all tend to gravitate toward familiar faces, make an effort to sit with new people at every event and be the most engaging person at every table.
Ramp Up Your Nonverbal Game
Body language speaks volumes. So even when you’re on the listening end of the conversation, here are a few ways to show people you’re an open book.
• Remember to smile
• Greet people with a firm handshake
• Maintain eye contact
• Listen actively
• Stand up, unless the person you are talking to is sitting
• Maintain good posture
• Avoid fidgeting
Get to Know the Organizers and Exhibitors
Organizers and staff hold the keys to lots of helpful information, so say hello and ask questions. They may be able to direct key people toward you and your booth. Be sure to reach out to fellow exhibitors, especially those in neighboring booths. An extra set of eyes is helpful in watching for people you hope to meet.
Focus on Building Relationships, Not Quick Sales
As you meet new people, you can make a great impression by asking questions and letting them do most of the talking. As you listen, look for ways you can help them through your business or a referral. Be engaged as a listener and be ready with additional questions and comments to keep them talking. Get their contact information, take a few notes about the conversation and tell the person how you plan to follow up. Then, make sure you fulfill your promise by following up a few days after the show.
Trade shows are an ideal time to establish relationships with people in your industry. VOXX offers comprehensive trade show services will help you make the most of your trade show experience. Be sure to ask our team of specialists to help you find the information and products you need for a positive trade show experience.