We see so many entrepreneurs miss important opportunities, and it makes us want to scream, “Slow down! This could be the opportunity that makes the difference!”
How many times have you attended a conference, trade show, or community event and either completely avoided the trade show/exhibit area or just visited the booths that totally excite you?
Ever walk around wanting to blend in with the audience so you don’t get “sold to”?
We totally get it. We’ve felt like that too. However, many successes that resulted from visiting the trade show, booth by booth, proved to us this was well worth the investment of time (and sometimes a bit of discomfort).
Visiting trade show booths has allowed us to:
- Learn more about the different brands, products, businesses, and services and why they chose to be a sponsor of the event. This information is beyond valuable. In telling you why they sponsored the particular event, they are usually sharing with you what they value, what they seek in sponsorship arrangements, and (sometimes) what hasn’t worked well for them. Doing research is one of the key strategies from our Big Dream Primer and we have suggestions there for how to do this in authentic and engaging ways.
- Building meaningful relationships and connections. Usually, the one manning the trade show booths can help you get past the gatekeeper and, in some cases, is the very person you need to know to further advance the relationship and collaboration conversations.
- Begin conversations about future collaboration. At a minimum, such conversations can get a follow up call on the books so he/she can focus on this event and the audience attendees (you don’t want to appear like a sponsor stalker or poacher!).
Not to mention, we have both secured sponsors from this very activity.
Here are a few tips to make every convention, conference, and trade show you attend a bigger success:
- When you meet people, ask for their card and send them a LinkedIn invitation. Remind them where you met. Do this immediately after you attend the booth so you and the conversation you had is top of mind.
- If you use and love their product, write reviews for them (e.g. on Facebook, for their website, and on LinkedIn).
- Go through the event program and connect with speakers and exhibitors on social media, specifically LinkedIn. Members of the Big Dream Primer get access to our step-by-step Finding Sponsors on LinkedIn guide.
- Send a thank you letter or card to the organizer for hosting a great event. You can also do this for brands you met at the trade show.
- Take photos at their booth (with them and you in the photo) and share on social media, of course tagging them.