4 Ways To Make The Most Of Trade Shows And Conferences

We’re approaching that magical time of year when almost every industry gears up for trade shows and conferences. For me as a designer, this is the time of year that exhibitors make a mad dash to get graphics, pop-up displays, booths, and banners design.

4 Ways to Make the Most of Trade Shows & Conferences
As an attendee, this should be the time you make plans to make the most of these networking opportunities. If you are not already planning to attend a show or conference, you should think about it. There’s often a lot of information that can be learned in break-out sessions, seminars, and from speakers. It’s also a place to rub shoulders with leaders in your industry and find new clients, investors, and talent resources, if you’re an entrepreneur.
Create A Plan Of Attack

If you have not already chosen and registered for an event, here’s my first tip for you: decide whom you would like to meet.

Is there a specific person that you want to pitch an idea to? Is there a company that you have always wanted to work with or for? Find out what conferences the person you want to meet will be attending and register for that same event.

What better way to meet them than to “bump” into them at a venue? You might just earn a few extra points with them for having a shared interest in attending that event.

This tip may require some stealthy research, but thanks to social media, it may not be as hard as you think.

First, do a search online to see what trade shows and events are coming up on the horizon for your industry. Next, take a look at the dates from the year prior. Then, peruse the person’s social media postings for the dates of the event last year.

If they’re active on social media, there’s a good chance that they may have posted about it just prior to attending, while they were at the event, or right after it occurred. Chances are high that if their posts were positive, they’ll attend that event again this year. Especially if they specifically said, “I can’t wait for next year’s event!”

Brand Yourself

When you’re at the event, use the tactic I talked about last month: wear a t-shirt with your title on it. This tactic is simple, yet effective. It works better than shaking hands and passing out a business card. When someone sees you, they know exactly what you do.

Not only that, you become unique and creative for having the balls to do so. I won’t hash out all of the details here in this article, I encourage you to check out that article to learn more about the tactic and how to pull it off.

Reach Out Beforehand

Remember just a bit earlier, when I gave you a stealthy, slightly stalker-ish way to end up at the same event as someone you wanted to rub shoulders with?

If you really want to make an impression, you can do a little bit of self-promotion prior to the event. If you’re looking to meet this person because you want to work for them or with them, instead of sending just your resumé, send a small self-promotional item.

For example, when I was still in art school we would make self-promotional pieces to send to potential agencies and creative directors we wanted to work for. One piece I did was called “Pick My Brain.”

I used play-doh to fashion a “brain” and stuck a business card in it just far enough to stay put, but hanging out enough to read my contact information. I then packaged it similar to candy bags you see hanging in the grocery check-out aisle. The hang-tag touted the brain as being unique, creative and artistic. The name of this packaged brain candy was, “Pick My Brain.”

Your self-promotional piece doesn’t have to be quite as elaborate, but it does need to be somewhat small in size so that it’s not cumbersome for the recipient. If you’re looking for an investor or partner with your business, you can send them samples or an item that relates to your business. When you “bump into” them at the event, you have a conversation starter you can use, and you’ll become more memorable than the hordes of faces they’ll meet.

Read more at: 4 Ways To Make The Most Of Trade Shows And Conferences

 

 Colleen Eakins — November 30, 2014


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