In order to grow a business, it’s important to network and one of the best places to do this is at an exhibition. With a warm audience of eager budget-ready businesses keen to research and buy new products and services, it’s important to make sure your networking techniques are up to scratch. Here are a few common networking challenges you might face at your next exhibition and how you can overcome them.
Giving business cards to everyone
It can seem tempting to simply hand over your business cards to everybody who walks past your stand with the intention that they’ll read it and contact you when they get back to the office. Except that they won’t be in touch and it’ll just make you look lazy.
You want their business, so talk to them! Ask about their needs and talk about how it relates to what you’re offering and how you can help them. It’s your job to convert them into a lead or a sale so make sure that you do the legwork.
Business cards should only really be swapped after you’ve spoken and only to make it clear that you are there for them to contact directly. After all – you’ll be in touch after the exhibition anyway to follow up!
Make sure you write down their details, or staple their business card to a lead generation form to note down their details.
There’s nothing worse than talking to a brand and then being immediately forgotten when you next talk to them. To get past this, write down as much information about the contact you’ve just spoken to after they’ve left on their lead form.
If you’re on social media, why not ask for their twitter or LinkedIn details so you can connect with them after the show. This provides an additional personal touch and will make the person feel valued that you’ve remembered them.
Forgetting to follow Up
As a business, you’ve invested a lot in attending an exhibition, from your planning time to staff costs so it’s important to make sure that any contacts you have gained from the event are followed up as quickly and efficiently as possible to increase the chances of keeping that lead warm.
This could be as simple as sending out an email to everybody to say "Thank-you for visiting us” with a reminder of any time-limited offers and a promise to be in touch soon.
The contacts should then be telephoned as a follow up to further investigate their needs. It’s always a good idea at the exhibition to rank the leads you gain in terms of priority. The A-B-C method can be useful here, where A should be phoned immediately, followed by B then C. This method ensures focus on the high-value, high-priority clients first, who may be quicker to convert.
Just make sure to write any notes up after the person has left as they may not appreciate being labelled as a low priority!
Once you’ve finished speaking to a visitor at an exhibition, the next step is to move on. Sure, you could stand around and chat about how busy the exhibition is, but you have work to do. It may seem rude but it’s important to your business that you move onto the next person who may be waiting to talk to you.
Before the event, prepare a few lines you are comfortable with to close the conversation, such as “It was lovely to speak to you” or “I’ll be in touch soon”. A handshake can also work well to give the visitor a physical confirmation that your conversation is over.
By portable exhibition display experts Marler Haley, providing a range of exhibition stand and display accessory products.