April 23, 2013

Work that exhibit hall!

Read your audience. Some people who stop by your booth just want a signature for their exhibit hall bingo card (daddy needs a new TV!).

Read your audience. Some people who stop by your booth just want a signature for their exhibit hall bingo card (daddy needs a new TV!).

I’ve been to all kinds of conferences and trade shows — big and small, East Coast and West. They provide an ideal opportunity to stay abreast of trends in rapidly changing industries. They’re also a great place to network and attract new clients, if you make the most of your time. These tips will help:

  1. Be prepared. Have talking points about your company ready, as well as insightful questions for potential clients to help you assess their needs and how you can fulfill those needs.
  2. Get the attendee list. If you have the option, try to get it before the event. This gives you a chance to research your prospects and zero in on who you’d like to talk with.
  3. Mind your manners. It may be summer, and you may be in a beautiful hotel, but you’re not on vacation. Potential customers are all around you. Being that person who had a little too much to drink at the happy hour makes you — and your company — look very sloppy. If you can’t take care of yourself, how can clients trust you to take care of their business?
  4. Man that booth. An empty booth tells prospects that you have somewhere better to be. Even during slow periods, you should always have a representative on hand. The most promising prospects may come around when the hall is less crowded and they can have an unhurried conversation with you.
  5. Read your audience. Some people who stop by your booth just want a signature for their exhibit hall bingo card (daddy needs a new TV!). Some just want to grab as many free branded knick-knacks and snacks as they can. Learn to gauge what booth visitors are interested in so you’re not pitching your company to someone who’s looking for a free pen while a potential client walks away.
  6. Follow up. Conferences are hectic. The exhibit hall is loud and overwhelming, and there are so many people to talk to. You need a solid follow-up strategy. You know you have an interested prospect, and your chance to really sell them is after the conference. Follow up as quickly as you can with information relevant to the conversation you had with prospects, or risk losing clients.
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