By Chaz Brooks, Chazbrooks Communications

1. Appearance

Dress accordingly to the trade show, if people are likely to wear a suit then wear a suit yourself, if casual then dress smart casual. Have a look online if you can find pictures of the last year’s show to see how people dressed. If in doubt it is better to be overdressed than underdressed.

2. How to introduce yourself

Don’t approach anyone who is busy with a customer. If it is a bigger stand and there is a reception desk then ask there first. Be friendly and direct about who you are and what your interest is.

3. Body language

Be friendly and smile when you approach a new contact. A firm handshake shows confidence. Have a look at your counterpart, his/her body language will show you if you should go on to the next step or if it would be better to come back another time. Many people are stressed on trade shows so don’t be disappointed if their body language shows signs of rejection, but offer straight away to come back another time when they have more time.

4. When to bring up your product/services:

Very briefly explain what your company does and what your responsibilities are. If they are interested they will ask for more. Try to make a connection to the business of the person you are talking to and be positive.

5. Business Cards

Make sure you have a good supply of business cards and they are easily accessible. Take them with you all the time, as even at the airport after the show you might meet somebody interesting. Also, make sure you keep any business cards you are given in a different pocket/place, as it is a bit embarrassing to try and give somebody else’s business card away!

6. When to say goodbye

Before they say goodbye to you! Read their body language. When they start looking around or trying to close the conversation it is better to say goodbye and leave.

7. Write down details

Make notes about whom you’ve met and where straight away, as you might have met a lot of people and your memory might play tricks on you. Those notes will not only make it easier for you to follow up, but by mentioning details they mentioned or the environment you met in, you will be remembered more easily.

8. Use trade parties for networking

Don’t go to any after-show events without business cards as those offer a good opportunity for you to meet potential customers or business partners in a more relaxed environment. As in private life, the bar or buffet is a great place to get in touch with people, but don’t overwhelm them with business talk, start off on a more social basis and find a common interest to talk about.

9. How and when to follow up after the show

Don’t put it off to long as the more time goes by the harder it will be to remember.

The easiest way to follow up is to start on a social basis and mention the event or situation you met, so it is easier to remember you. Don’t be disappointed if you are not remembered straight away, as not everybody might be as organised as you. Even if people you meet don’t seem interesting on first sight you should still follow up. You never know where they will work next.

10. Long-term follow up

You can follow up occasionally with seasonal greetings or news on yourself (new job, new address), or sending a newsletter to your contacts. Use business contacts to send company and product updates on a regular basis.

At Fresh Business Thinking we can help you succeed at your next exhibition or trade-show by combining the event marketing with an online campaign - email to find out more.