The most important reasons people exhibit at a trade
show? To see what's new and to gather leads - information
for future business.
So, how do you that besides standing in the booth and
walking the aisles? The word is "Networking". It is much
more than a buzzword. Networking is a conscious, planned
effort to get the most of quick encounters, in. brief time
periods, and to develop a lasting mutual relationship.
WHAT IS NETWORKING?
The concept of networking got its start with job searches
and head hunting. Like a spider spinning a web, a job
seeker leaves a trail of resumes, going from point to point,
tying knots in the process, until the quest (the web) is
In the beginning, your technical skills will be required, but
it's your people skills that keep you going. Technical
expertise is important as it puts you on one level, but it's
people who raise you up in the business world.
Networking should be of mutual benefit. What can you offer
to raise up the other person?
At a trade show, position your firm as an expert. Besides
meeting people at your exhibit, here are other networking
* Have technical experts in your exhibit at selected times for
conferences or to answer questions. Promote this before
and during the show.
* When possible, have your staff participate on panels and
* Make all of your staff experts - Select a trend and be certain
everyone is up to speed. Talk about it in every conversation
on and off the show floor. Always use your company's name
in the conversation - make your firm the trendsetter.
* Send a report of the show to all contacts made at the
show, highlighting the trends and comments visitors made
about your company.
When you give advice, you are recognized as having
superior knowledge and expertise. When others ask for
advice, they are acknowledging that they don't know
something. It may be difficult for people to ask for help. Part
of your networking skill will be to recognize when advice -
instruction - information - will be helpful to the person.
It's important not to talk down to or make other people feel
uncomfortable, as you provide information. Use simple
words and increase your vocabulary as you establish
rapport with the visitor. This is especially critical when
introducing new technical products and services that may
have new words or language attached to them.
Sometimes, you'll be asked for information you don't have.
You must determine what you know, what you have and
what you need. If there are gaps, determine what you need
to do, who you need to know, in order to bridge those gaps.
Remember, it's OK to say, "I don't know" what asked a
question, but it is your responsibility to find the answer and
get back to the questioner as soon as possible.
BUILDING THE NETWORK
Through your life you will meet thousands of people. From a
chance encounter on a school bus to the second cousin of
your neighbor's best friend, from a mail order supplier in
London to a tennis partner - we are surrounded by contacts.
Some of these people will be critical to your success.
The Internet allows us to broaden our network greatly.
Sometimes luck plays a role in who we meet at the show -
you might meet the school bus buddy or the second cousin.
The world is getting both larger and smaller at the same
time. Manage your time and effort to be attuned to those
conditions that improve the odds of good luck and
serendipity - accidental discovery.
Enjoy your next show.
Julia O'Connor - Speaker, Author, Consultant - appreciates
the nuances of networking. She is president of Trade Show
Training, inc. and often teaches clients how to move
strangers to strategic networking partners.
http://www.TradeShowTraining.com -- 800-355-3910