Written by: Peggy Swords
Whether you are a salesman, a manager, a business owner or run a corporation, networking at trade shows often leads to long-lasting business relationships that can help you meet all of your goals and pave the road to additional networking opportunities. When attending your next trade show, you should consider putting the following tips for successful networking to use for best results, with one of the most successful tools being a thoughtful and sleek exhibit design.
Take the Time to Plan Your Networking Opportunities Carefully
Although you should network with as many people as possible, random networking does not always generate the same results as planned networking. By taking the time to identify which events you want to attend, you will have a better chance of networking with people who you really want to meet. In addition to carefully choosing events, you should try to find out who will be attending the upcoming trade show in advance. After you have the names of some or all of the people who will be attending, take the time to come up with useful questions that you can ask the people you are interested in meeting. Often times, an exciting exhibit design can be a quick icebreaker and means of identifying potential networking opportunities.
Limit the Time That You Speak With Each Person
To increase your chances of success at your next trade show, plan on limiting how much time you speak with each person you meet. The key to success is to keep the conversation flowing, but do not spend too much time with just one person. By spending too much time with any one person, you will be depriving yourself of valuable networking opportunities. Of course, there are some exceptions to this rule. If you are speaking with someone who is on your list of people who you would like to meet, then you want to spend a little bit more time with this person. For the most part, you should plan on spending enough time with each person to create a lasting impression, but move on so you can meet other people.
Exchange Business Cards With Everyone You Speak With
For best results at your next trade show, exchange business cards with everyone who you speak with. This is true even if you only spend a few seconds saying hello to someone. Business cards usually contain important information about each person you meet, so they are always important to have. By taking the time to exchange your business card with others, you will have a record of everyone you met at the trade show.
Ask People Who You Speak With For Referrals
To increase your success rates, it is always important to ask for referrals when you speak to people. Quite often people know someone else that would be interested in purchasing your products or signing up for your services. By taking the time to ask for referrals from everyone who you network with, you will be increasing the chances of success at your next trade show.
Follow-Up With People After The Trade Show
To get the most out your efforts, you should contact the people who you have met after attending a trade show. Even if it is a quick voicemail message, e-mail or text message, sending a quick note to let them know that you have enjoyed speaking with them encourages further contact and is often the first step to developing a long-lasting business relationship.
To get the best results at your next trade show, you should consider putting some or all of these networking tips to use.
About Peggy Swords
Peggy Swords is the founder and president of Excalibur Exhibits, a $10 million Houston-based exhibit manufacturing and production corporation. Excalibur Exhibits designs, builds, delivers, assembles and disassembles as many as 300 exhibits per year. Swords was named as a finalist for NAWBO Houston 2003 Woman Business Owner of the Year and 2005 Enterprising Woman of the Year Finalist. Additionally, Excalibur Exhibits is a five time member of the Inc 5000, a three time member of the LSU100 and a two time member of the Houston Fast 100, a list of fastest growing privately held companies.