Going to a business show is a great way to super-charge your networking and see the lay of the business land.
But if your approach is random, you’ll just end up with a pile of bumf, sore feet and a headache.
Avoid that jaded feeling and make visiting business shows work for you with these 10 top tips:
Go with Goals in Mind
What goals do you want to achieve for you and your business? Get clear on these before planning your visit so that what you do at the show links to these goals.
Read through the show guide (and review the floor plan)
Note your ‘must-see’ exhibitors and seminars – these are your priorities so make sure you create enough time to focus on these when you visit (perhaps visit their stands first before you get distracted). Map out your route in advance and track it on the day so you use your time efficiently (especially useful in the very large shows where it can be easy to go round in circles and miss sections of the exhibition space).
Research the businesses
…of your ‘must-see’ exhibitors so you can have meaningful conversations with them that go beyond the typical small talk.
Schedule the time
…you want to spend at the show so it fits into your day. If you are able to make appointments with the exhibitors you really want to see, even better!
Find out who else is visiting
This is pretty easy to do these days through social media and some shows publish a visitor list. Is there another visitor you really want to meet? Why not arrange an appointment to meet them at the show?
Communicate & plan with your team
If you are attending with colleagues, decide which exhibition areas / stands each of you are going to focus on so you don’t end up with duplication and gaps in what you want to cover.
Take a comfortable-to-hold bag
…for all the bumf.
Make sure you have plenty of business cards.
You may even want to print cards that have something like “nice to meet you at the — Show” to prompt people’s memory of how you met.
Block out some times in your diary
…ready for follow up appointments with people you meet at the show. Make sure you take your diary with you so you can book in appointments there and then.
Update your CRM as you go
Most CRMs have a companion smartphone app. Why not update your CRM with contacts details, notes on your conversations and tasks as you go through the show. Maybe have a coffee/water break every half hour or so and do it then. You could also use a business card reading app to speed up the process, or do it the old fashioned way in a notebook. This saves on the mammoth after-show tasks and means you’re more likely to remember and record important bits of conversations. Read our post on CRM here.