Going to a tradeshow is not unlike going to your first day of high school. Lots of people (kids) from different companies (schools) coming together in one gigantic new space, all trying to network (make friends) and get to know each other.
If you are a naturally outgoing and extroverted person, this might be a piece of cake for you. If you aren't, this might be your worst nightmare. Either way, we present you with some survival tips for getting through a tradeshow. With FabTech coming up in November (in our hometown of Chicago!), this is the perfect time to put these into practice!
Sit down at lunch with someone you don’t know. Ask them where they are from and play “5 degrees of separation”. You never know who you might know in common and that could open the door for future opportunities!
If you are exhibiting, make eye contact with every person you can, in a non-threating, non-judgmental way. Attending tradeshows makes people skittish; if they feel pressured, they may not stay to chat. Smile and be sure to really listen to what they are looking for. That may be the difference between a new client and a lost one.
If an exhibitor’s services catch your eye but aren't quite what you need, talk to them anyway. You never know what other services they provide that they aren't directly marketing.
Take advantage of apps on your phone that can help you capture people’s information and make sure to follow through right away. With an app like Evernote, you can set a reminder so that when you return to your hotel in the evening, you can send your new contact more info on your company or just a note to say you enjoyed meeting them. You meet hundreds of people at a tradeshow. Keep yourself fresh in their mind.
For FabTech specifically, go to the Robotic Arc Welding Contest or the Welding Wars Competition. Everyone likes a little competition and cheering for or against the same team is an instant ice breaker.
Lastly, bring an extra bag for all the stuff you pick up! You can’t leave a tradeshow without a mountain of freebies, giveaways and information. Bring an extra bag to keep it separate in your luggage so you can easily sort through when you return to the office
If you’re attending FabTech 2013 in Chicago, send us a Tweet or visit us on Facebook and let us know!