Speaking of Networking, How to Make the Most of Conferences and Trade Shows

Technology has changed almost everything about business to business (B2B) marketing. Trade shows and conferences, however, continue to attract many people and represent a $570 billion industry. Because knowledge and trust are key to building relationships, the trend will continue mainly because you can’t do that on a screen yet. In order to get more sales, you have to schedule more meetings and this is where conferences and trade shows come in.

Regardless of the industry, buyers and sellers get together at conferences and trade shows to connect and partner and knowing how to get the most value out of your attendance is important. Preparation is key!

Knowing who will be there will help you find the right people to meet and technology can be very helpful here as many conferences have their own apps or other community building aspect. So the first step is to build a list of those you are interested in connecting with.

Now that you know who else will be at the conference, reach out to them to set up meetings and let them know you want to connect. Today’s communication lends itself to several and many ways to reach out and an email that let’s the individual know that you have a solution for them or perhaps want to work on something together is a good place to start. But you can also connect with them on twitter, instagram and LinkedIn. Another good twitter resource, especially is the conference or trade show hashtag. Check it out and be sure to engage with others, like and share comments as well. Lastly, think about calling them and beginning the relationship building with a phone call.

Now that you met with the folks you wanted to connect with, now you really have to be on your toes. Schedule the next steps and be sure to follow up. It’s all in the follow up, so be patient. We are all really busy, so remember that and stay top of mind with a follow up email or call about some other thing you discussed or had in common. Don’t just collect the business cards. Find the best way for you to reach back out to everyone in the next few days or so so you stay top of mind. Perhaps you send an interesting article about the industry or a hobby you shared.

During the conference it is also important to balance your time between the interesting content and sessions and the various opportunities to network. Be it breakfast, lunch, the sessions themselves or at happy hour.