I was out in Chicago a few weeks ago attending the Dreamforce event where my company had a branded pedestal. If you are not familiar with the event, it’s run by Salesforce.com and is free for partners, customers and prospects to attend. I had not been on the booth side of a trade show in several years but I was familiar with the format and what I needed to do to support my team. I wanted to share some ideas with you first-timers.
1. My favorite line to a passerby is ‘Hi, how are you? Are you familiar with [insert your company name here]?
This is a great leaway into a conversation with a) a customer ‘Yes, of course, I work for so and so and we use your guys’, b) someone who kind of knows ‘O yes, you do blah blah blah – right?’ or c) clueless ‘Hmmm, nope’. In either of these scenarios, you can go right into a conversation. As a side tip (and I hate going there), but try not to spend too much time with type A because you are there to meet new people/prospects but it’s always nice to chat with customers.
2. Not good at networking? Head to the food table.
While a majority of the people I meet in ‘real life’ would disagree, I am truly an introvert. I’m extremely anxious walking into a room with tons of people mingling and talking amongst themselves. How do I jump into a conversation? Do I talk to him or her or all of them? My dad shared a trick with me once and it has worked marvelously; head to the food table. Grab a drink, a cookie, whatever and talk to other people in line. Most of he time the conversation will continue even after you have left the food table and introductions happen.
3. Wear comfortable shoes.
This goes for you men and you women. I get it, we all want to look nice but you are doing no good for anyone if your toes are squished and you are just counting down the minutes when you can race home and kick off those shoes. So get comfortable – you are going to be standing for awhile!
4. Bring your business cards.
I don’t often give them out but just in case someone happens to ask, you should have some at the ready.
5. Scan everyone?
I have mixed feelings on this. While events are generally for lead generation and awareness, should you be out in the aisle scanning every single passerby or scanning only those with whom you engage? I go with the latter. Why? Because I don’t want to get home and have to remember who we actually connected with and who may still have no clue who we are and what we do. Scanning those that you engage with allows you to at least segment the people a little easier which makes follow-up communication a breeze.
Who’s been to a trade show lately? Let’s expand on this tip sheet!