Weekly Insights: How to Network at Trade Shows

Photo: FreeImages.com/LotusHead

Photo: FreeImages.com/LotusHead

There’s no reason why connecting with people at a trade show should be limited to the booth – in fact, it shouldn’t be. There are plenty of other opportunities to meet new people, discover common ground, and possibly even open new opportunities. (But be careful – you shouldn’t be actively selling outside your booth space.)

So here are a few networking tips for your next show:

  • Have at least one meal a day with customers or prospects during the show. Even better … make it a small group event and introduce people to each other.
  • Wear your name badge at all official show events (but not out on the street, to keep from making yourself a target for criminals).
  • Introduce yourself to speakers and other participants in seminars.
  • Make a point of introducing yourself to strangers and use people’s names. (Within reason of course … you don’t want to use their name in every sentence!)
  • At receptions, keep one hand free and always shake hands firmly.
  • After meeting someone new at an event, keep in touch through e-mail or social media and periodically send notes or links to items of interest.

(Adapted from Build a Better Trade Show Image by Marlys Arnold)

For more great networking advice for both during and after the event, check out the two-part interview with Cathy Jennings, “Make Networking Fun & Productive.” Her tips are especially helpful for introverts!

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With experiences as both an exhibitor and a show organizer, Marlys Arnold has a unique perspective on trade show exhibiting. As an exhibit marketing strategist, she travels the country consulting and training on how to create experiential exhibits that produce significantly higher numbers of qualified leads. She’s led workshops for events ranging from local consumer expos to some of the largest trade shows in the U.S. She hosts the Trade Show Insights blog/podcast, and is the author of Build a Better Trade Show Image, the Exhibitor Education Manifesto, and the ExhibitorEd Success System. Exhibit Design That Works (the first book in the YES: Your Exhibit Success series) debuted in July 2017. She’s also the founder of the Exhibit Marketers Café, an online education community.

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