Trade shows are a great place to network, not just for business but for your career.
You can make real connections with people on the trade show floor. You won’t have a long time with someone but you can carve out enough to make a good impression.
This is true whether you are working the show as an employee of a company (booth candy) or a delegate (well fed and employed) or in career transition (Tim Horton’s and a resume anyone?).
How to make the most of a trade show:
- Get a haircut
- Wear a freshly pressed shirt.
- Carry cards with your contact information. This is not the place for a resume. The goal is to make contact and then follow up with a thoughtful email later.
- Set a goal before you start.
- Identify three companies that use a certain methodology.
- Shake hands with four sales managers.
- The week before, contact two people who you know will be there and set up coffee breaks with them.
If you want to actually have time with someone, go when the show is quiet, usually when the seminars/workshops and keynote speakers are on. At that point, booth staff are usually standing around talking to each other. That’s a great time to get their attention.
You may find that it’s kind of loud. Make sure you look into their eyes and speak clearly. Deliver your message. Ask for the information you want and move on. It’s not the place to carry on a conversation about why you ended up selling shingles or why you think your boss is an idiot. Keep it short, clean and direct.
A note about touching – Recently, I watched someone at a trade show. He was talking with a delegate and when he led her to the table with the literature, he had his hand in the small of her back. Ewwwww. That kind of move belongs in romance novels not on a trade show floor. A light touch on the arm to catch someone’s attention is sufficient.
So check out your local convention centre to see what shows are coming up and make a date.