Small Business Tips: How to Find what You Need at a Trade Show

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In virtually every industry, there will come a time when, as the owner of your business, you will be summoned to appear at a trade show or other type of industry event. These events generally serve as a way for brands to showcase their wares while meeting and networking with old clients as well as potential new ones. When you go to a trade show, you are most likely going to leave laden with an assortment of product guides, free samples and branded goodies. In the end, things can add up to be a lot to keep track of, and finding what you are looking for and remaining focused on your goals when at one of these events might take more finesse than you would have thought.

Have a game plan before you get to the show. Going to a trade show will often be an event in itself, with many of them hosted in “destination” areas such as Las Vegas or New York. That’s why you should take the time to plan out your priorities for the trip while you are packing your bags, not sitting on the plane. Depending on the size of the event and how many of your clients will be there, you may have a only a few concrete goals and more aspirational goals such as speaking with 10 potential clients or looking for some new potential marketing techniques. Either way, it helps knowing what you want to get out of the event, since once you are there it is easy to get distracted by all of the excitement.

Always bring your business card. You never know exactly who you will meet at a trade event, but they are usually great for building out networks in your industry. Another thing to think about is the potential to follow up with those you meet in order to boost your business’s social media following or create guest blogging opportunities. No matter what you wnat to follow up with a new connection on, having a business card to hand to them makes reconnecting a whole lot easier.

Make sure employees you bring along are ready to engage with clients. When you go to a trade show, your whole brand is being represented. Bring your employees with the strongest product knowledge and ability to interact with customers. They will do a lot for your networking efforts, and make people think of your company in a strong and positive light. That’s not to say that you can’t bring trainees, but if you choose to, then you might want to spend some additional time teaching them a pitch and some points on your business that they can use should they find themselves in a position to be brand advocates.

Be prepared to learn about your competition. At the trade show, there will often be larger or better established companies in your space. Learn from what they are doing successfully, and be aware that you are being checked out as well. While you are going to want to appear as strong as possible, if you are sitting on something that is truly game-changing, you might want to keep it under wraps to avoid giving anyone else a stab at using your idea.

Photo Credit to Vancouver Film School on Flickr


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