12 Step Trade Show Survival Guide
Brace yourself. Spring is here and with flowers that bloom come a dizzying array of industry meetings to attend, exhibit halls to walk, booths to man, speeches to sit through, and networking events to navigate.
The following is a list of survival techniques to make the most of your trade conference experiences so that all that time away from home can add up to more than a bag of great swag:
Schedule Appointments – Before you even get on a plane, take the time to search the meeting website to see who will be attending or exhibiting and who you want to be sure to meet. Appointments are your ticket to making the most of your time so reach out to people in advance with a few possible times to talk at your company’s booth or get together for a cold drink.
Love the One You’re With – Remember in advance to reach out to current associates and key contacts to get on their calendars too. There’s nothing worse for business than making someone feel less valuable once they’ve started working with you. And think of the money you can save by scheduling face time with a contact at a meeting you both attend.
Respect Time – It’s important to remember that everyone attending or exhibiting at a trade meeting is hoping to leave with a better solution to a problem, a new approach to maximize a need, an acquisition or disposition of assets, or something similar that justifies the time and expense of being out of the office. That means everyone is trying to squeeze more minutes out of every hour than exist, so be where you say you will or call to let someone know if something has come up so they don’t kill time waiting for you.
Tag Team – If at all possible, don’t go into the trade conference jungle alone. Bring a co-worker to attend different sessions, squeeze more than one meeting into an hour, and maximize the amount of business you can get done.
Have Something to Say – It goes without saying that you need to make a good first impression really fast in the fast paced environment of a trade show floor, and even the slower pace of private meetings. Know your elevator pitch. Anticipate objections and know how to turn negatives into positives. Condense your value proposition into an easy take-away for the people you want to have take your information with them.
Do Your Homework – If you want to go home feeling like your time was well spent, spend the time at the show to scout out what other companies are saying and doing
Be Friendly – No matter the value of your product or service, or whether you own or manage a 1,000 units or 50,000 units, people really want to do business with people they like. Make it easy for them.
Make Sales Materials Make Sense – Everyone likes a bit of trinkets and trash, but swag alone won’t sell your product or service or help you company find something to become more profitable. Be prepared to give people something they can use to remember you by that makes them want to do business with you. Information is is more valuable than trinkets and not nearly as heavy to carry home.
K.I.S.S. Your Booth – If your company is exhibiting, remember that a picture may be worth a thousand words, but a confusing image will send prospects packing. The Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) philosophy still holds true if you don’t want to suffer the Kiss of death with confusing text and images. Likewise, don’t be afraid to ask questions about the value proposition of someone else’s booth if an image sparks your interest.
Make Nice But Not Too Much – With trade conferences comes the proverbial networking events and the literal free-flow of liquor and hors d’oeuvres. It’s important to remember that professional networking events shouldn’t be confused with personal nights on the town. Moderation on all counts is usually a good idea…though maybe a bit of a drag.
Wear Comfortable Shoes – You know it, you bring them, and you just gotta wear ‘em. Business can’t happen if your feet are killing you, and you will be on your feet a lot.
The Morning After – Business keeps happening even after you’re on your way home. Be genuine and remember to follow up with people you connected with at a meeting. Drop them an email, or better yet, a personal note. Structure follow up in a way that makes sense all around. The real work comes after a trade meeting, when all your promises have to be met.
We welcome the opportunity to schedule time with you at TAA in Dallas, April 24-26, AAA in Atlanta May 14, and NAA in Denver, June 18-20. Good luck in the months ahead!
ARTICLE FROM: MultiFamily Insiders