Although not all trade shows are equal, there’s much to take away from each one. You just need to have the right approach. Earlier this month, David Adelman, founder and CEO of ReelGenie, penned a great column for Forbes magazine on getting more out of conventions and trade shows. Here is his list of tips:
1. Plan ahead: Adelman says to get creative and go where your competitors are not. He recommends prioritizing your list of conferences using two key metrics: Who will you meet there and how much will it cost.
2. Do your homework: Pour of the details of the conference such as sponsors, prices, and exhibitors and be sure to plan for specific sessions. Adelman also recommends chatting up vendors during a keynote speech you don’t mind skipping.
3. Be frugal but smart: Attend shows closer to home or crash with friends or use Airbnb when traveling. Adleman also suggests asking for startup discounts to save on conference registration fees.
4. Schedule meetings: Adelmen recommends using a LinkedIn message and e-mail to connect with industry experts, vendors, and conference organizers in advance. Use mutual contacts to make a connection if possible and keep messages concise.
5. Be persistent: Most contacts are busy so send a follow-up if you don’t hear anything after a few days. Don’t take it personally if they don’t get back to you before the event.
6. Stay organized: Use a Google doc spreadsheet to keep important information for each contact organized and track messages sent.
7. Know what you’re looking for: While en route to the conference, write down key objectives and critical questions, says Adelman. Then arrive with laser focus so you are better able to learn and make connections. Be patient and advice-seeking and you’ll get the help you need.
8. Be social (media): Use your youth and social media savvy to your advantage by tweeting about the conference using official hashtags.
9. Be social(-izing): Pay the extra fee to join networking events where most all-important conversations take place. Bring plenty of business cards and don’t limit socializing to formal events, says Adelman.
10. Follow up: Write a personalized e-mail to each contact you made at the conference on the way home. Briefly rehash what your company does and why it might be interesting for that contact. Be polite, personable, and short.
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