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Trade Shows – A Great Networking Opportunity

Posted on March 14, 2018 at 11:07 AM
When I first started my career in marketing, large industry trade shows were the norm. (Remember Comdex anyone)? The software and other high technology firms I worked with attended an average of one show per month – which required a lot of effort and expense – but provided great opportunities to meet clients, prospects and potential business partners.

Today, while there are still some large industry events, they are fewer in number, as smaller more-focused conferences and seminars are more efficient and cost-effective – and therefore popular. I recently attended a user group meeting with a client for example, and found the camaraderie and cooperation between both the firms presenting their wares, and the attendees looking for solutions, to be very positive indeed!

This is a refreshing change to the early days of large trade shows, when companies would be trying to best each other to see who could “score” the highest number of leads every day. It seems that we have finally learned that it’s the quality of relationships established – not quantity of superficial tallies.

Anyone who has ever presented at or attended a trade event knows that successful shows don’t just happen; they take great planning and execution. As the old saying goes, “the devil is in the details.” Appearances matter – so be sure to put your company’s best foot forward (as well as your own) and ensure a great first impression through professional dress and decorum.

As Stephen Key points out in his column, ‘13 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Trade Shows,' "If you have a product idea that you want to license, you should consider attending a trade show. There are people at trade shows that you would have a remarkably difficult time reaching otherwise. An entire industry is gathered in the same place for two to three days! But attending a trade show that's out of town can get expensive, fast. To make it worth your while, you need a battle plan."
Mr. Key’s trade show attending advice includes:

  • Vetting the various shows carefully to ensure attending the events right for your business
  • Registering in advance to save money
  • Optimizing networking opportunities by staying at the hotel associated with the event
  • Making a plan - arrive early and map out companies to visit
  • Dressing appropriately for the show & wear comfortable shoes
  • Bringing business cards & your firm's literature & pick up theirs
  • Approaching booths when they are crowded is bad timing – come back when less busy
  • Letting sales people engage you (they will)
  • Take it seriously - work the show
  • Follow up a week after the show - very important to establish & maintain relations

Trade shows are great ways to get to know a company and its people – as a possible solution provider, or potential lead or partner. There are no gatekeepers with which to contend, and people are there for the express purpose of making contacts (and sales of course). Plus, since shows are often several days in length - there are frequently events before and after standard show hours providing more in-depth and conversational networking opportunities.

Carpe Diem!

Categories: Marketing

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