Networking is the single most powerful tool you can use at a trade show. You cannot afford to not have your whole staff networking at all times at the trade show. Spend some time before the show perfecting the finer points of your product or service you are providing.
Make sure that these come off as conversational and not too pushy. Any connection you make at the trade show could be a potential sale now or down the road. If you are personable and likable, even if they don’t purchase from you, they may recommend your services to friends and colleagues.
Trade show services companies will tell you the importance of networking at the events they put on. Here are a few ways you can upgrade your networking game.
1. Roll Solo
There is nothing more intimidating than approaching a group of people already engrossed in conversation. Spend your free time walking the show alone, which will make you much more approachable.
Dining in the cafeteria by yourself invites people to sit with you. Often it is incredibly challenging to find a table during lunchtime. If you snag one by yourself, you may find yourself dining with prospective clients.
2. Focus on Them
You have minutes, sometimes seconds only, to create a fantastic first impression. Engage in meaningful conversation, asking relevant questions about what they do. By gaining this information, you will seem more genuinely interested in what they have to say, not that you are just trying to sell them on your company.
Clients will remember people that took an active interest in them and are much more receptive to follow up conversations after the trade show is over. By learning about the person and company you are pitching to, you can tailor your proposal to meet their needs and hopefully get a sale.
3. Contests and Raffles
The whole point of setting up at a trade show is to get out there and meet new people, expanding your professional network. This is not going to be accomplished by sitting behind a table, waiting for attendees to come to you. Some people have a small fear of rejection and prohibit them from beginning a conversation with strangers.
This is where contests and raffles come into play. Try using a wheel of prizes to attract people to your booth. Get out from behind the table and out into the walkway. Cheer people on when they take a chance on your game. This is an excellent, easy way to begin a conversation with a prospective client that has a pretty low rejection rate.
You can even print up custom cards for a free wheel-spin to hand out during meals and when you are out and about walking the show. This way, you can entice people over to your booth to spin the wheel and have a follow-up conversation.
The worst thing you can do when networking is to gather a bunch of business cards that you do nothing with. Get out there, make meaningful conversations, and remember to follow up with everyone after the show.