10 Things to Do to Get the Most Out of a Trade Show

Crowd of people in building lobby

It is no secret how important it is to get your brand and product front and center of your audience, and while there are numerous ways to do this, some are more effective than others. Trade shows are a simple and fantastic way to get started creating and fostering new relationships with your target audience. Before you dive in, there are a few things you can do to prepare and ensure you get the most out of the trade shows you attend.

Man speaking on stage

1. Do your research

The last thing you want to do is show up to a trade show that is completely unrelated to your industry. It may be fun, sure, trade shows are fun, but it will likely waste some of your time and money. Do your due diligence and find the trade shows that make sense for you to attend. Important information to look up is who is sponsoring it, who is speaking and who is exhibiting. Consider targeting trade shows that your competitors are not attending so that instead of focusing on competition, you can focus on fostering meaningful relationships. Leave yourself plenty of time to walk around and network. Get to know the other exhibitors as well as attendees. 

2. Schedule meetings in advance

Once you’ve nailed down all of the information you need to attend, start reaching out to vendors, experts in the industry, the organizers etc., in advance. Make an effort to introduce yourself, say why you’re attending the conference and ask to meet up with them for a few minutes while there. Take advantage of your professional network and consult LinkedIn to see if you have any mutual connections. If so, having someone introduce you is a great start. If not, it is perfectly normal to send out cold emails, but why do that if you may have a mutual that could make the introduction.

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3. Take notes

It’s great to schedule meetings in advance, but you will also want to leave yourself time to meet other attendees while there. Make sure you keep a notebook on you so you can write down important things and keep track of all of the new faces you meet. It’s possible you could meet anywhere from 50 to 200 people, and that will not be easy to keep track of. A notebook or even an iPad with a Google Doc spreadsheet full of contact info and anything else you learn about someone will help you remember everyone after the event.

4. Make a game plan

To ensure you don’t waste precious time wandering around aimlessly, write down goals you want to achieve and questions you may want to ask the people you meet. This way, you can show up to the trade show prepared to learn what you went there to learn and then some. While immensely valuable, trade shows do take up time and can be an investment, especially if they require you to travel. Don’t forget that you are there to learn and make connections. That being said, it’s important to have fun and enjoy yourself, just don’t get so caught up in freebies that you lose sight of your objectives.

Close-up of people on their phones

5. Take to social media

These days, everything is marketed online on any social media platform you can think of. Don’t be afraid to Tweet about the conference or post about it on LinkedIn. Use the official hashtags the conference likely established to get your posts in front of other attendees and those interested. You never know who is watching, and it’s a great way to continue to connect with everyone involved. People will likely share your content, garnering you even more exposure. Who wouldn’t want that?

6. Be present

With that being said, make sure you don’t spend too much time on your phone. While you want to keep social media updated, keep it to a minimum so that you don’t miss out on anything happening right there in front of you. Having your head in your phone too much may cause you to miss out on important interactions. 

7. Bring business cards…

One of the most important things to bring to a trade show is your business cards! Think of the number of people you are likely to meet. Are you going to remember every single one? Probably not, you would have to have an insane memory for that. The same will go for everyone else that is meeting you. Make it easy for your new associates to remember you by giving them your business card. Make sure you bring plenty, because as I mentioned before, you could meet a lot of people. 

8. and other marketing materials

While business cards are key, you can also bring other marketing materials such as brochures, flyers or other fun giveaways. Ensure you leave a lasting impression by providing as much information about you and what you offer, as well as having some fun little giveaways. Setting these items up in an enticing way at your booth will help draw people toward you as well. Not many people can say no to a fun freebie.

9. Be strategic

Try to avoid approaching another booth when it’s super busy. If it’s packed when you walk up, you may not be able to chat with who you want to chat with or even make much of an impression. Don’t start approaching booths right off the bat as that is when everyone else will be. Give it a few hours, or if it’s a multi-day event, you can even wait for the second day. Don’t wait too long though, as some booths may leave early. 

Email application on cell phone

10. Follow up

Ok, so the conference is done now what? You probably left with a lot of new connections and business cards, but don’t just stuff them in a drawer and forget about them. Follow up! While you’re on your way home, start drafting personalized notes to everyone you met at the trade show. Include a brief overview of what you do to jog their memory and remind them of why your connection is valuable. Keep your messages short and friendly and you’ll see the replies flying in.

Need new business cards?

Now that you are ready to start attending trade shows, make sure you have plenty of business cards on hand. Or maybe it’s time to revamp them? Either way, if you are in need, Printivity has got your back. Get your order started, or consult our design experts for an update, by calling 1-877-649-5463.


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