At this time of the year there always seems to be a lot of conferences, summits, trade shows … call them what you may and as regular readers will know, Craig recently attended the Inbound 2014 Conference in Boston. In November I too will be heading to Dublin for this year’s Web Summit and so am currently working on the best strategy to adopt when it comes to getting the most from a great networking opportunity.
With that in mind I thought it ideal time to cover something that doesn’t really get the attention it deserves when it comes to online reading – trade events.
These days of course we have social media to really help us get the most from events such as these. Advertising your presence at large events is a great way of cementing your industry authority, especially if you perform tasks such as live tweeting from the event when interesting things happen. For example, at trade events there’s often talks from those at the top of their industry. This is an ideal opportunity for the marketer or business owner to show that they are at the cutting edge of what’s happening in the industry by tweeting or blogging about it as it’s happening.
Exhibiting Requires Planning
Ideally though, you should have prepared for the event well in advance and if you’re exhibiting, then a firm strategy should have been already set up and carried through if you want to get people to your stand.
Before the event you should:
- Have everything that you need for your stand at the event and gifts/stationary prepared well in advance. These can be posted to social media and used to prompt other guests to ask where you’ll be, ensuring that you have immediate footfall. Do make sure that you post to the event organiser’s site where applicable as they love to create a buzz too.
- Research your hashtags! Use the official event hashtag and one for your business. Use the event hashtag when posting anything about the event to make sure that you’re discoverable to people searching for the tag – these will often be the people that are attending.
- A blog that discusses the event so that you can post mini updates during the show to inform your audience. Remember to include images of your stand and information about any special offers that they can only access at the event itself.
- Use QR codes on your cards and stationary so that people can gain instant access to information about your products or services.
- Get together a ‘lead’ document to record details of those that are interested in your services. Of course, you can also just ask people for business cards but if they don’t have them it’s a good idea to have a back-up plan.
- Have a goody bag made with your company details on the bag itself and a few promotional freebies that are also fully branded. These don’t have to be hugely expensive – some pens and notepads and a USB stick perhaps.
At the Event
Ideally, you want to get as much of a buzz going around the event as possible whilst you’re there. To do this live Twitter updates are a must and you can even hold Twitter chats following talks and other exciting announcements to answer questions that your followers might have.
Remember too that you’re going to want a lot of images from the event where possible so do try to use a good quality camera for this. You can use your mobile camera to post live image updates to Instagram but you should aim to get plenty of decent images too for your blog posts.
It’s important that you prepare for any questions that you may be asked about your business of course and take along any relevant information surrounding pricing, availability etc. It doesn’t do any harm to have a good read up on industry news before you go as well, so that you can hold your own in any conversations that might crop up.
Most of all, whilst you’re there speak to people and make new friends. If there’s a networking dinner or evening event then do go and make sure that you strike up conversation. You’re primarily at the event for a couple of main reasons: to find out information on the industry and the people in it and to find potential new business. You can’t do the latter if you don’t talk to people and whilst this sounds obvious, I’ve been to events where the exhibitor just sits behind a display and doesn’t even say hello – getting social both online and in person are key to a successful event.
When chatting, do keep your initial introduction brief though, few people will have the time or inclination to listen to a 20-minute monologue on how you are the best in the biz.
Most trade events have workshops and more intimate talks taking place too and these are an ideal platform for you to show off your insider knowledge, so use them, ask questions and offer solutions to problems and you’ll not only help to generate conversation, but will get noticed at the same time too.
Look the Part
It’s worth taking a look through photos from an event’s previous years to see how people are dressed. Are they all in suits or attired quite formally or is it an informal, casual event when it comes to what people wear? You should aim to dress to suit the occasion and not yourself. If in doubt and you have no idea, then take versatile clothes that you can dress up or down – it’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed.
Events can be exciting and you can learn a lot from attending them in all kinds of ways. Prepare the ground properly and you should come away from the event with more authority in your industry and all being well, a fat list of prospects to convert into leads and sales.