12 Trade Show Networking Tips for Entrepreneurs

12 Trade Show Networking Tips for Entrepreneurs
by Staff Contributors
in Grow · Marketing & Sales
— 29 Aug, 2013

According to Exhibit Surveys Inc.’s annual Trade Show Trends report, “84 percent of trade show attendees have the power to recommend, specify, and/or make final purchasing decisions. Perhaps more importantly, 49 percent came to 2012 shows with real purchasing intent.”

If trade show attendance and exhibiting is a component of your marketing strategy, there are simple ways to maximize your presence and build your business with key decision makers. Most importantly, trade shows can offer high impact networking opportunities that every entrepreneur can leverage.

Here are twelve powerful tips to network like a pro at your next trade show.

1. Attend your next trade show, alone.
“If you’ve ever been to a trade show, you know it can be difficult to approach someone who’s already in a conversation. So don’t bring a guest to the ‘party’. If you go alone, you’ll look more approachable and it’ll be easier for you to approach others too.”

– Ronnie Castro, Co-Founder of Porch, @rcastro831

2. Do your homework.
“Know who is going to be there and who you want to target. Some [trade] shows actually list attendees before the event and have a social interface to communicate with them.”

– Simon Slade, CEO of Salehoo Group Limited, @simonslade

3. Schedule meet and greets beforehand.
“[Develop] a target list of must-meet, great-to-meet and nice-to-meet. Be persistent in meeting with them either through setting up early morning breakfast mornings before the show hits, circling the show a few times in the afternoon or staying late.”

– Shawn Harris, Founder and CEO of Nyopoly, @nyopolycom

4. Create a lead capture system.
“Create a lead capturing and follow-up system, stick with it, and follow-up after the trade show. So many companies don’t think about how to capture the leads until they hit the show floor. By then it’s too late!”

– Lauren L. Darr, President of LOI International, @laurendarr

5. Engage in quick and relevant conversations.
“It is not how many business cards you hand out, but how many you collect. When you meet a person, make the conversation about him or her, not about you. The more interested you are in the other person and his or her work, the more memorable you will be to that person.”

– Jason Swett, CEO of Snip Salon Software, @JasonSwett

6. Perfect your elevator pitch.
“Have your elevator [pitch] ready. Be prepared to tell the highlights of who you are and what your company is about. You should be able to do this quickly, and your listener should walk away with good information and a desire to know more.”

– Lani Derrick, Owner of Elle Dee Design, @elledeedesign

7. Get over your fear of social rejection.
“The key to networking is getting over your fear of social rejection. It takes 5 whole seconds of courage to introduce yourself to a stranger; you never know what will happen until you take that first step. Keep a plan of action in your mind for the conversation. Do you want to accomplish something specific with this person? Stay focused, be yourself, and be respectful.”

– Seth Young, CEO of Star Fantasy Leagues, Inc., @sethyoung

8. Use social media to build rapport.
“Connect via Linkedin or Twitter before the show. Once you’re at the show, be social. Share via Twitter and Instagram who you’re meeting and promote them. You’ll build incredible relationships that will be extremely beneficial to your entrepreneurial future.”

– Michael Kawula, Founder of Self Employed King, @SelfEmployDKing

9. Organize a contest and be approachable.
“Raffle a prize to collect contact information from the attendees. Also, don’t sit behind a table, but rather stand in front of it, so that you can easily talk with attendees.”

– Holly Stokes, Owner of The Brain Trainer, @hollystokes

10. Take advantage of unique opportunities.
“While walking the expo floor at conferences, have a way to demo your product via your smartphone or iPad. You never know when you’re going to bump into someone who wants to know more. Secondly, I do my best networking at the parties that happen at night in the hotel bar. You really get to know people better when the crowd is smaller and more intimate.”

– Chris Russell, Founder and CEO of Career Cloud, LLC., @chrisrussell

11. Identify key people you would like to meet.“Shows are big and time goes fast, but with a little planning, you can [create] a list of the key people you want to meet. Plan to stop by each booth.”

– Catriona Harris, Co-Founder of Uproar PR, @CatrionaHarris

12. Look to connect on a ‘human’ level.
“Think of how you can be of service to the people you’re interacting with rather than approaching them with the goal of getting them to do something for you. What questions can you answer for them? What [do] you have in common outside of [business]? When you connect with people on a human level, rather than just hustling your business, you’ll make much stronger connections that can yield much better results.”

– Suzi Istvan, Founder of Social Suzi Designs, @TweetSuzi

Read more: http://yfsentrepreneur.com/2013/08/29/12-trade-show-networking-tips-for-entrepreneurs/#ixzz2dqQrxTZt
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution No Derivatives
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