Friday, October 12, 2007

Effective Trade Show Attendance

A trade show can be a great opportunity to meet and reconnect with key people in your industry. Everyday around the United States there are countless trade shows and conferences taking place where people gather to listen to industry experts, roam past exhibit booths, and network over cocktails at the closing happy hour.

A trade show involves a lot of pre-planning for those companies who exhibit, but there should also be preparation for those who simply attend. Most of the time, however, attendees just show up without any forethought on what they want to accomplish from their investment of time at the event.

Here are three things that will bring you more success when attending a trade show:

1. Know in advance who will be at the show and which speakers you want to hear. Too often people miss the programs of highest interest because they did not look at the schedule in advance.

Think about whom you want to see while there. Call key contacts in your industry and find out if they will be attending. Set up lunch or drinks in advance so that you can be sure to meet up with them while at the show.

Finally, scan the list of vendors who will have booths so you know can pre-plan how much time you need to allow for wandering the trade show exhibit hall.

2. While at the trade show be sure to talk to people. For some reason people walk the floor of a trade show like they were a cast member in the movie "Night of the Living Dead". Don't be a trade show zombie, but rather grab the opportunity to meet new people and chat with those you already know. Make eye contact with the folks in the booths. Yes, they want to talk to you....that is why they are there.

3. Follow up with everyone immediately. The mistake people make in all networking situations is that they fail to connect with people because they do not follow up. If you do not reach out to those you met in a timely manner it is an opportunity lost. A short handwritten note recapping your meeting is the most effective way to follow up, but an email or a phone call can also be effective. However, if you do not follow up within three days, then you run the risk of being forgotten forever.

Having a system for pre-planning, attending and following up will make your trade show experiences more effective.

Have A Great Day.


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