Most of us view trade shows and conventions almost as a necessary evil. They are events we have to attend for networking and business building purposes. But what if they didn’t have to feel like such a chore? What if they could be fun? What if they could be fun while also being great for building your business and bringing attention to your brand? Here are some of the things that you can do to make that happen.
This is especially true if you are tabling at an event. When you buy booth space it is easy to feel like you have to stay at your booth throughout the entire event (save for any time spent on speaking or on panels of course). When you confine yourself to your tiny exhibition space for an entire event, it is easy to get bored and, if we’re being honest, to slack off and spend more time sitting and staring idly into space than actually engaging the passersby.
Bring someone along who can help you really engage the people who are at the event. Better yet, bring a few people. This way everybody–including and especially you–will have time to take breaks and to explore the rest of the event. After all, part of the fun of these events is connecting with other exhibitors and panelists and trading tips and war stories. You can’t do that if you’re stuck in your booth the whole time.
Note: the more energetic and outgoing your booth help is, the better.
Use the App
Yes, most events still offer some sort of printed program out to exhibitors and attendees. Even so, you’ll get much more out of a networking event or convention if they have an official convention app avaiable to download. For one thing–that app often comes with extra advertising and sponsor space so, if you’re willing to spend some extra money, you can passively advertise to every other person at the event attendees and exhibitors alike.
Advertising space isn’t the only reason to be pro-convention app. These apps are more than just scheduling updates. Today’s convention apps are highly interactive and that can definitely work to your benefit. You can see what is happening all over the event in real time. You can use it to ask for and get feedback about your talks, panels and booth offerings. You can use it to communicate directly with attendees and tablers in real time, even before you’ve officially exchanged contact info. It’s an especially great way to make connections if you are shy or are intimidated by networking “in real life.”
Set Up Meetings and Meet and Greets
One of the best things about networking events and industry conventions is getting to see friends and colleagues who you don’t often get to see in person. Of course, trying to connect once you’re at the convention can be difficult. This is why it is important to set up lunches, coffee “dates” and other meetings before the convention actually starts. This way you know going in that you’ll get to spend time with people you like.
While you’re at it, why not try to set up some face time with one or two other convention goers whom you’ve always wanted to meet? Is there an industry expert whose brain you’ve always wanted to pick? Send a few emails out (try to time them a few weeks before the event actually takes place) and offer to take that person out for coffee or to buy that person dinner. You’ll never make new connections if you don’t ask for them!
The simple fact is that there are lots of things that you can do to “liven up” your presence at a networking event or convention. If you’re hoping to get the most out of an event on a “personal” level the tips in this article are a good place to start!