By Linda Locke
I attended a trade show at my local business women's networking group this week and was once again struck by the fact that some exhibitors were wasting their money on a booth because they didn't have a plan to make the most of the opportunity.
Success at a trade show event only starts with purchasing the booth and showing up -- that's the easy part. Next you need to plan your strategy for attracting people to your booth, making a connection with them and then getting their card or contact information to follow up with them afterwards.
So here's some quick tips for making your next trade show appearance a success!
Be approachable. Smile, look people in the eye and be friendly. People won't even approach your booth if you look unhappy or sad or nervous.
Wear something fun that invites comments -- a t-shirt with a funny saying, a cool piece of jewelry, a stylish or outrageous hat. Pick something that matches your personality and style.
Offer something for free. It can be a sample, a tip sheet, candy, whatever. Use your imagination. And always particpate in any of the free drawings the event is offering to encourage people to leave their card or contact information with you.
Stand up -- don't sit behind your table. You want to be eye to eye with your booth visitors.
Create a fun and eye attracting display. Just spreading your brochures and sales materials on the table won't cut it. Use balloons, flowers, or some colorful decorations to make your booth stand out.
Follow up with your leads immediately after the show to get maximum results.
Take some time to visit the other exhibitors and network with them as well.
Never, ever, ever use a sales pitch at a trade show. Remember you are there to connect, network and get leads; not to sell.
Expect people to just come to you. You need to actively work a trade show. You can't just sit behind your table passively like a wall flower.
Don't let people just drop their business cards in a bowl -- jot some notes on the back of the cards as a reminder of what you talked about so you can do a proper follow up with them later.
Don't eat, drink, talk on your cell phone or text at your booth.
Dress unprofessionally. People make decisions about who you are by how you dress -- make sure you make a good impression.