Monday, 16 November 2015

How to Network at Trade Shows

Exhibit Surveys Inc. says that 49% of attendants come to trade shows with the intention of making real purchases, whether this be immediately or through networking. Networking at trade shows is your primary goal of attending, and there is a real art to it.

It does take some getting right. Experience is the best teacher, so make sure you review your performance every time. If you want to network better at a trade show, follow these smart tips.

Send Your Soldiers Out Alone

The chances are you will be bringing staff members along to help you manage your booth at the trade show. This is all well and good, but you also need to take the initiative in some things. Some staff members should be asked to network alone.

This can be intimidating, but it actually increases your chances of successful networking. It can be intimidating for people to approach a group. It’s much easier to approach someone who is alone because you are in the same situation.

By being alone, your staff become instantly more approachable.

Give Out Free Trinkets

Some would call it a bribe, and perhaps it can be construed as such. But it is also a fantastic way of sparking a conversation.

The toughest part of networking at a trade show is starting that first conversation. Give out pens, lanyards, and other little trinkets. Brand them so they subtly communicate the company message at the same time.

Brand Your Staff Members

When your staff members walk around a trade show, what makes them stand out?

If the answer is nothing, you need to change that. Make your company stand out from the competition by adding some adornments to the people representing you. This could come in the form of a lanyard with their names on it, or a tablet with a company logo on the back.

Not only does your company become noticeable, but it will also attract the individuals who are trying to seek out your company.

Figure Out Who You Want to Meet in Advance

Figure out who you want to meet and who you want to talk to prior to attending the trade show. Have some clear goals in mind and be persistent in meeting everyone on your list.

By having a plan, you can make sure you are always hard at work. Yes, you will come across individuals who are not on your list, but through scheduling some meetings in advance you can guarantee a visit to a trade show will always be worthwhile.

Pick the Right Conversations

Think about what a trade show really is. It is a lot of human beings in a room trying to talk to each other. These people are all different. Some are nervous, some are enthusiastic, and most fall between these two points.

It’s only natural to start with small talk, but make a conscious effort to limit small talk. Engage in relevant conversations quickly. Here are some smart tips for engaging in meaningful conversation:

1. This is not a sales pitch. It is a simple introduction where you exchange contact information.

2. Make it quick without feeling rushed. Spend too much time with one company and you will not have time to speak to the other targets on your list.

3. Every company has a goal. Talk about these objectives. Always keep your conversations relevant.

4. It’s not quantity; it’s quality. If someone is clearly not interested, end the conversation and move on.

Following Up after the Show

The reality is these leads often come to nothing because they are not followed up. Create a lead capture system that you follow up upon rigorously. Call your leads a few days after the show and try to advance discussions.

Take note that your leads may come to nothing. Some companies are simply dipping a toe in the water. But if you gather a long list of contact details, the chances are one or two will come to something.


A successful trade show is ultimately about gathering lots of contact details. After the trade show is where the magic tends to happen. Do not focus too much on pushing sales immediately. Use every minute to engage in quick and meaningful conversation.

If you follow these tips, you will get so much more from your future trade shows.

Get in touch with today to find out how we can provide you with high-quality Printed lanyards and other Personalised, Custom Lanyards products to boost your advertising campaign.

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