The potential rewards of going to trade shows and other kinds of conventions as a business have been written about many times. We’ve written about it here! But it’s time to take a deeper look into one of the most important aspects of a convention – in fact, it’s arguably the most important aspect.
The number of customers you can get from a single convention can be impressive, but the immediate or even long-term gains aren’t always bombastic. But the connections you can make with potential clients and partners? They can really carry your business to the next level.
So I’m talking, of course, about networking. Unfortunately, it’s one aspect of a business convention that’s so often overlooked. A lot of business owners go into these things and seem to aim only at getting a huge boost in raw sales. They make the mistake of assuming that every other business interest at the convention is an enemy. This is the wrong approach. Conventions give you an amazing and rare – opportunity to network with a huge amount of people within your industry. You may even find yourself getting connected with a real industry giant.
So how exactly do you go about networking effectively at a convention? Check out these tips.
Your stand design
Seriously, it’s not just about impressing potential customers. Not to hammer at this point too often, but you need to stop thinking about a convention purely in terms of attracting customers. Your display should also attract competitors, as well as the big names behind the organization. If you go to the right place for convention printing, amazing connections may find themselves attracted to your business.
Most conventions will have a list of business attendees available somewhere. It’s often on their website, but you may be able to request such a list from the organizers directly. You want to research these attendees and find out which ones strike you as potentially great connections to have. One great perk of using this method is that you can actually find ways to reach out to them beforehand, especially if you’re both using social media!
Businesses will come from all across the country – or even the world – to get to the right convention. It’s not exactly the cheapest of endeavors, and the most obvious way to save money is to find an out-of-town place to stay or even to head back home afterward. But you’ll want to seek accommodation nearby, or even at the venue of the convention, if possible. This allows you to hang around a bit later, allowing for me casual interactions with the businesses at the convention.
Don’t just wait for these potential connections to come to you. You need to get away from your stand and have a look at the other businesses in attendance. If any of them catch your eye, then don’t be afraid to go over and strike up a conversation. If they know what they’re doing, then they’ll be just as eager as you to network at these events, and should be grateful for the attention!