Not only can trade shows be fun and informative, they can be a great way to get you out and speaking with large numbers of people about your business. If done correctly you can also get referrals, make good networking partners and even pick up new clients this way.
First, make sure you are attending the right type of trade shows. Avoid gatherings where large corporations are invited to attend. Instead, focus your time on shows which invite smaller, local businesses to participate. Bridal shows, business to business expos and holiday shows are just a few that would be worth your time.
Dress professionally. Remember the first impression definitely counts.
Most trade shows have a small fee to enter. Look for discounts or coupons that are available in the local community to increase attendance.
Once you are there take the time to visit each booth. Ask to speak with the business owner. Have them tell you about their company, what they offer and who a good customer would be for them. Once you’ve spoken with them about their business they will hopefully be interested in knowing what you do. This is an excellent opportunity to give them your 30 second commercial and offer them a business card. If you are offering a free seminar or have an opportunity to network with them ask for their card. Make sure you don’t take too much of their time in this process. Remember they are paying good money to be displayed at the show. Instead of landing on them let them know about your upcoming seminar or networking opportunity and offer to call them with more information.
After the trade show (or at the end of each isle) take a few minutes to write a note on the back of the business card to help you remember each person you speak with. Then, after the trade show, the next day, send a “thank you” letter to each of the people that you met. If they were interested in the seminar let them know that you have a seat reserved for them. If they wanted to attend a networking function with you give them the details and let them know you look forward to seeing them again. For everyone else include a reminder of who you are and how you can help their business. Mail it to them with a business card. Not everyone will respond, but if you can acquire a new client out of a few hours of prospecting then it was worth the time.