A lot goes into planning for a trade show. What should be included in your display? How much product should you bring? What should you feature? What should your staff be focusing on? One thing that factors heavily into your trade show plans is making time for networking and how to do it successfully. In a 2014 article for the Globe and Mail, guest writer Colleen Francis wrote about a seller attending an event for hospital workers and how he approached networking. Francis also offered plenty of ways to make sure that you’re making the worst of your networking opportunities.
- Optimize your time – If you have to travel, use that time for planning. Map out your time at the show and where you want to be and who you want to interact with. Take care of housekeeping business items from the office while traveling if you are able. If you can avoid it, don’t drive yourself to give yourself that time to take care of such things and eliminate the stress of dealing with traffic.
- Be seen and heard – Don’t be afraid to speak up. If there are slots to speak at a lecture or a workshop, sign up. Make people take notice of who you are and why you’re there. Give them a reason to visit your booth when you’re done speaking.
- Branch out – You may know a lot of industry people who are attending the show, some whom you’ve even traveled with before. While it’s good to keep up with colleagues and the competition, you’re there to create new prospects. Try engaging with attendees you don’t recognize from other trade shows and events. You might even find out they know who you are and since you’re there to network, expand it with new people.
- Maximize your schedule – Ever feel guilty about getting in a round of golf while traveling for events? It could actually end up being a great business decision. Extracurricular activities in down time at conventions provide plenty of time to network in a more relaxed environment. You may enjoy golf, but maybe schedule something out of your comfort zone. Try a new restaurant or check out an art museum or wherever other prospective clients at the show might be.
- Don’t rush to leave – Whenever the event is scheduled to wrap up, you might be on a tight time schedule to catch a flight right after. Not only are you stressed about making your flight, you’re checking the time and thinking ahead about packing and travel time instead of being focused on how to wrap up your pitch successfully. Francis suggested that flying out in the morning allowed to her to attend closing activities at conferences. Also, flights are less likely to be delayed in the morning as opposed to early evenings.
- Finish the trip – Use travel time on the way home to once again catch up on things you missed from your business. Get emails and other tasks out of the way so once you are home from the event, you have more time to unwind before preparing for the next trip.
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