If you’re like most companies looking to stay on top of trends and developments in their industry, attending trade shows, conventions and conferences is an important component of that pursuit. For trade show attendees, preparing to both showcase and mingle with fellow industry professional can be quite a tall order, especially considering how confusing and overwhelming the experience of a trade show can be.
So what are some of the best ways to tackle networking at your next trade show? We’ve prepared a list of tips to help you get ready to network like a champ.
Bring a partner …or two
It’s hard to effectively network if you can’t leave your company’s booth to mix and mingle. This is why bringing a partner, someone who knows as much or more about your company and what it offers as you do, is imperative to being able to network well at your next trade show.
While you interact with your fellow trade show attendees, you can feel confident that your partner is holding down the fort and doing a great job at interacting with interested by passers.
Reach out to your competition
Instead of avoiding those companies with whom you are in direct competition, why not reach out to them and make a new contact? The companies with which you compete most intensely might actually be the companies who can offer you the most solid networking opportunities. If you make friends with someone who has great connections within the industry or want to look into building affiliate networks in your industry, making contact with your competition is actually a great place to start.
Be resolved to friendliness
Even if social functions aren’t your strongest suit, you must make an effort to be approachable and congenial throughout the trade show. A friendly, smiling face and approachable body language make it much easier for people to initiate conversation with you, especially if they’re interested in your company and the services you offer. If you aren’t approachable, fewer people will inquire about your company and then you’ve defeated the entire purpose of setting up at a trade show in the first place.
Get involved in the presentation
If the trade show you’re attending has speaker slots open, volunteer to fill one. Create an interesting, dynamic speech about your company, your theories on where the industry is headed and what things, in your opinion, could use improvement. Volunteering to speak will both establish your company as an authority in the industry and create far more visibility for your brand among the trade-show attendees. Once you’ve spoken, and your speech is a hit, you’ll have more people approaching your booth. Whether it’s to speak to you about your ideas or what your company has to offer, getting involved in the presentation side of the trade show opens tons of doors for visibility and exposure, for both your company and yourself.
Organization is the key to doing pretty much anything effectively. When it comes to networking at trade shows, organization occupies a highly important role. Plan a schedule for when you’ll be communicating with the trade shows attendees at your booth and when you’ll venture out to other booths to make contacts. Make certain that your partner knows the schedule and approves it before you arrive at the trade show. Try not to spend too much time networking in a single area of the trade show; organize your time in increments that are most accommodating to you, yet still allow you to cover as much of the trade show floor as possible.
Networking at your next trade show should be a fun, beneficial experience that yields you some valuable contacts and provides your company with great exposure.
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Also published on Medium.