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5 Tips For Maximizing Networking Opportunities at Trade Shows and Events

Trade shows yield a significant range of professional benefits and opportunities. While manning your trade show booth is important, there are other goals that can exist while at your event. Yes, there will be many direct competitors, but there will also be a slew of affiliates and potential partnership opportunities as well. In order to truly capitalize on all of the potential leads and opportunities presented during your event or trade show, you must also focus yourself and your team on effectively networking throughout the entire function.

Networking 101: What to Know When Leave Your Booth

Feeling a little uncomfortable at the thought of leaving your trade show booth and walking as an attendee? Don’t be, because it’s a common occurrence. However, it’s important to know that not mingling with other exhibitors can prove a major marketing mistake. So, make a schedule with your team to ensure that there is always someone manning your booth and then, make a plan to rotate various employees into the showroom itself to get the latest scoop on who, when, where and what is happening in your respective industry.

1. Get the Attendee List in Advance

How can you possibly know who you will want to meet with if you don’t know exactly who will be attending the upcoming function? Get the attendee list in advance so you can pinpoint which businesses make sense to connect with during the event.

2. Schedule a Meeting

Once you have a tentative outline of organizations or key people you’d like to meet with, it’s perfectly fine to reach out in advance to schedule a meeting time during the trade show or event. Many trade show displays have designated meeting space built in for client appointments, so most businesses will welcome the chance to meet with you.

3. Create A Plan For Visiting

Of course, sometimes making a scheduled appointment with various businesses simply won’t work. For those businesses, make a schedule for a “walk-in” during show hours. You might not be able to schedule with them directly, but you can make a visiting plan that frees up your staff to take a walk over at various points during the day.

4. Timing Is Everything

When you do have a plan for walk-ins, timing is really everything. Never try to work your way into a crowded trade show booth. Instead, wait until there are noticeable lulls in the activity levels on the floor. Even going on the second day of the event can mean easier access to the right people at different companies.

5. Pick Up Literature

Finally, always encourage your staff to pick up marketing materials from every company’s exhibit that they visit. Being able to go over the information collectively as a team can help you strategize based on what different companies specialize in, as well as help you identify various trends within your industry.

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About the Author

Larry Zollo is a recognized leader in the Trade Show Marketing industry. As the President at Skyline Exhibits & Graphics, he has over 30 years of expertise with trade show displays, exhibits, and booths in Connecticut. Larry has been the presenter or guest speaker at over 50 industry events. He believes that to make any marketing program successful, it is all about clear communication coupled with excitement and engagement. Sounds simple, right? “Gaining qualified leads and more sales at-bats for your sales team is always the goal”.

2 responses to “5 Tips For Maximizing Networking Opportunities at Trade Shows and Events

  1. Great article Larry. I agree, getting the attendee list ahead of time is very beneficial, but I’m finding that getting the attendee list in advance seems to be getting harder and harder lately. Any tips for getting those ahead of time if it’s not automatically sent out to everyone?

    1. Promoting that you will attend the event via their various social media channels is one way to let people know and find out who else is going.

      If it is a trade show/networking event, attendees as well as exhibitors and sponsors are typically listed in the Mobile App.

      Some events also offer B2B Matchmaking / Appointment Scheduling software to pre-arrange meetings.

      Looking forward to meeting you at one of the upcoming Meeting Industry Events this fall.

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