Trade shows can cost you a lot of money, no doubt, and be time-consuming at the same time. So it’s only natural for you to try and make the most of your participation in one. In fact, you shouldn’t have to think twice before expecting something in return every time someone so much as strikes up a conversation. After all, what good is a trade show if you can’t do what you are there for – networking, right?
Wrong! Every time you make an attempt at networking, you undermine the importance of building something more substantial and meaningful, a relationship, which could go a long way in ensuring your success.
Why Networking At Trade Shows Is A Big No-No?
- People are not naive. They know exactly why you are reaching out to them. They don’t like being used. Nobody does.
- You are not the only one who’s trying to forge a connection with them. They would have been to several other booths before they finally show up at yours. They are done collecting business cards, half of which have already found their way to the trash can, and yours won’t stick around for long either. So much for networking!
- They despise small talk. While they would love to know more about you and your brand, a customary chit-chat won’t do the trick. They expect you to stay in touch after the show and would give you some extra brownie points if you do.
How To Build Relationships At Trade Shows?
- Ask the right questions – questions that may go beyond the scope of the show or might not have anything to do with your products. As long as you don’t invade their privacy and assure them that it’s not a one-off interaction, they’d have no qualms answering.
- Be a good listener – it’s only human to think about what you would say next while talking to someone, but that’s not how you build a relationship with anyone, let alone those you meet at a trade show. Listen. Just drop the guard for once, and be all ears.
- Use the right body language – Nothing’s worse than faking interest in what they have to say. Do everything you can to create a rather inviting atmosphere. Don’t cross your arms or legs, maintain eye contact and do not forget to nod. You know the drill!
How To Nurture The Relationships Post The Shows?
- Connect with them online. Find a common ground and engage them in engrossing conversations. Comment on their blog posts and invite them to forum discussions.
- Understand their problem areas and offer a solution. Unsolicited emails and handouts won’t go down well with them, but if you address their problems, they will be thankful. If you don’t offer what could be a potential fix, do go the extra mile and connect them to someone who does.
- Invite them to non-networking events in the area. Free lectures and seminars should do.
Remember, you can’t force people to do business with you, but if you build a relationship with them, you won’t have to; as simple as that!