March 2, 2024

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The Ultimate Guide » Small Business Bonfire

The Ultimate Guide » Small Business Bonfire

Networking at trade shows can be a great way to connect with potential customers, partners, and more.

However, it can also be intimidating if you don’t know what you’re doing.

This article will discuss the best ways to network at trade shows and make the most of your time there!

How to Network at a Trade Show

Networking at a trade show starts before you even set foot in the door. It’s important to research who will attend, so you know who to target when networking.

Once you’re at the trade show, start networking by introducing yourself and explaining what your business does. Be sure to talk about your business’s value and why people should be interested in what you offer.

Utilizing innovative stands is a great way to stand out and meet people. This can be achieved through unique signage, attractive displays, interactive activities, and more.

It’s also important to make sure that networking isn’t all about you. Ask questions, be genuinely interested in other people’s stories, and don’t forget to exchange business cards!

Here are some guidelines you can follow while networking at a trade show:

  • Start with Your targets
  • Fit in by standing out
  • Arrive at the show early
  • Get an elevator pitch
  • Always have “leave-behinds” ready
  • Be your authentic self
  • Don’t be to salesman like
  • Follow up afterward

We’ll go through each of these in-depth to help you stand out from the crowd!

Start With Your Targets

Before you can successfully network at a trade show, make sure to research who will be attending and determine who your networking targets are.

This way, you won’t waste time networking with people who can’t help you in any way.

To find your target audience, read through the exhibitor list and look for networking opportunities with companies that can serve as potential customers or partners.

Fit in by Standing Out

how to network at a trade show - stand out

Networking at a trade show is all about standing out from the crowd.

Once you’ve identified your networking targets, introduce yourself and explain what your business does in an engaging way that will draw attention away from the competition.

By standing out from the crowd, you’ll be more likely to make meaningful connections and start networking conversations.

Arrive at the Show Early

Shows can get crowded, and networking opportunities don’t usually last long. Make sure to arrive early, so you have plenty of time to make connections before the show gets too busy.

Arriving early also allows you to scope out ideal networking spots and plan when to make your move.

Get an Elevator Pitch

Before networking, ensure you have an elevator pitch ready to explain what your company does and why potential customers should be interested.

This can include the following:

• A brief description of your product or service

• How it solves customer problems

• What makes you stand out from the competition

Keep it concise, descriptive, and engaging!

Always Have “Leave Behinds” Ready

A “leave behind” is printed marketing material you can give potential customers or networking contacts.

This could be anything from a business card to a brochure, but make sure it will capture their attention and help them remember you after the show. Here are some tricks to help your business card stand out.

how to network at a trade show - business

Be Your Authentic Self

When attending a trade show, it’s important to be authentic. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the event and feel like you need to put on a show for everyone. But by being genuine, you’ll connect with people who can help you in your business.

People are drawn to authenticity. They want to know they can trust the person they’re doing business with. When you’re authentic, you’re letting people see the real you–including your flaws. And that’s okay. People admire honesty and vulnerability.

Being your authentic self will help you form better relationships with people. They’ll see that you’re someone they can trust and that you have their best interests at heart.

When it comes time to do business, these relationships will be invaluable.

Don’t be Too Salesman Like

Networking is not about selling. It’s about making connections and building relationships. So don’t be too pushy or aggressive when networking – focus on conversing and exchanging ideas rather than pushing for a sale. This is a bad habit within the industry that is all too common.

As we mentioned, being authentic here is key – showing your genuine interest in networking contacts.

Follow Up Afterwards

Networking is not just about making connections; it’s also about building relationships. Following up after a trade show is key to building these relationships.

There are several things you can do to follow up after a trade show:

  • Send an email
  • Make a phone call
  • Send a handwritten note
  • Meet up with the person in person

Regardless of your chosen method, make sure to personalize the message and mention something specific that you talked about during the trade show. This will help remind the person of who you are and why they should stay connected.

Did We Miss Anything?

Networking at a trade show takes time, dedication, and strategy. But if done correctly, it can lead to profitable business relationships and even deals! Follow these tips to ensure you stand out from the crowd and get networking results.

Do you have any networking tips of your own? Let us know in the comments!

Trade Shows FAQ

What is a trade show?

A trade show is an event where companies display their products and services to potential customers, partners, investors, and other industry professionals. 

How do you get noticed at a trade show?

In order to get noticed at a trade show, arrive early and introduce yourself engagingly. Have an elevator pitch ready to explain what your company does, and always have “leave-behinds” ready to give networking contacts. 

How do you network effectively at an event?

In order to network effectively at an event, make sure to research who will be attending and determine who your networking targets are. Fit in by standing out from the crowd and be yourself when networking – don’t try too hard to impress. Finally, remember to follow up with contacts after the show.

What should you not do at a trade show?

Don’t be too pushy or aggressive at a trade show when networking. Focus on having a conversation and exchanging ideas instead of trying to make a sale. It will impress potential customers more if you show genuine interest in networking contacts. 

How do you attract customers to a trade show?

Attracting customers to a trade show can be done by advertising the event in advance. Reach out to contacts in your network, post on social media, and create an email campaign to promote the show. You can also offer discounts or other incentives to draw people in. 

What should you bring to a trade show?

When attending a trade show, bring business cards, brochures, or other “leave-behinds” to help networking contacts remember you. You should also have a display stand or banner and dress professionally. Finally, make sure to bring snacks and drinks to keep yourself energized throughout the event.