Trade shows can be really valuable business development tools. Whether you’re an exhibitor or attendee, they are a fantastic opportunity to meet and engage with people that you can potentially do business with. They can also be a futile waste of time and money if you don’t have a plan for how you’re going to approach your attendance. Below are some tips to make sure you’re getting the most out of going to your next trade show.

Go to the Right Trade Shows

It’s unlikely you’ll have the time or budget to attend every single trade show opportunity that’s offered. Do some research into which ones are going to be the most worthwhile for you and plan your attendance in advance so that you can make sure you have time to prepare anything you need and set tangible goals you want to achieve for each one.

Attend and Exhibit

Often trade shows are considered to be ‘something that the sales team do’ in a business which can mean that if you’ve booked to be an exhibitor, you have limited time to get out of your booth over the event. Try to schedule it so that you have some other people from the business who are able to work at your exhibit, even if only for a couple of hours each day, to free you up to get out and interact. This lets you not only network more effectively, but also do some competitive analysis at the same time.

Style Your Booth

If you are exhibiting, make sure you put some time and resources into making your booth work for you. It needs to look great and invite people to come and explore your space. Having a theme and putting some creative thought into decorating your booth will really help make it stand out in the crowd. It can be worth investing in some quality, branded displays – have a look at websites like Tenji Concepts for some product information and inspiration of what’s on the market.

Make Your Giveaways Count

Promotional items should be a stylish and functional representation of your business so don’t just stick to the traditional branded pens style giveaway. Think about what other businesses often hand out and pick something different if you really want people to notice and remember your company.

Remember It’s About More than Leads

Obviously sales are important, but they don’t necessarily happen straight away. While you should be capturing and promptly following up on ‘hot’ leads, make sure you spend some time on building relationships – and not just with potential customers. Some of the networking opportunities trade shows offer can do much more for your business long term than a one off transaction.

Trade shows and exhibitions can be exhausting but if you have a well thought out approach to attending and exhibiting, they can also be full of opportunity for both attendees and exhibitors.

How do you make trade shows work for you?