Top Tips for Tradeshow Connections
Is it really the last week of June? How did we let two weeks go by after a major conference?
Fio Connect attended the 50th Global Petroleum Show in mid-June. It's one of the world's largest energy conferences, and we wanted to make sure that Fio Geo had a presence. We thought that by now, we would have accomplished a whole bunch of follow-up activities that we could confidently report in this blog! But here's what happened...
The conference ended, and we walked out with pockets full of business cards...that stayed in pockets longer than intended.
Our initial enthusiasm was high; we made some great connections, and we couldn't wait to start our reach-outs. But...the next day hit and we were tired. Our energy was low. Our feet were sore. And we were looking at an inbox that had been neglected for three days.
Now, we've had to backtrack and tap into our powers of recall to remember the content of every conversation. Even worse, we have to reignite our enthusiasm that came so naturally in the moment.
So...this got us thinking. How can we better prepare for the next important business event? Here is a plan and timeline that we've devised to avoid making the same mistakes again, and to maximize all the connections gained through our hard work on site.
1. Upon Awareness of Trade Show Dates:
a. Check your calendar (and those of relevant co-workers) to see if you/your team can attend the trade show.
b. Check your calendar to make sure you are around post-trade show to handle the follow-up, and that you have the appropriate support to do the activities itemized below.
c. If a) and b) are clearly open – go ahead and register.
d. Schedule blocks of time before, during, and after the tradeshow according to the next phases of this plan.
2. One Week (or More!) Before The Tradeshow:
a. Download the app for your tradeshow. If your tradeshow doesn't have one, print out or download all relevant maps and schedules.
b. Do your homework in advance. Research, research, research! Look at the tradeshow program and know who is exhibiting, presenting, and attending - and where! Some tradeshows have multiple venues, potentially out of the way of the main venue. You may be missing important connections or conversations if you don't have a plan. Take travel time into account, knowing that traffic could be heavier than usual due to the event.
c. Identify your top ten hit list for who you want to talk to in all three categories: exhibitors, presenters, attendees. Rank those 30 connections by priority.
d. Download a business card scanning app – this will make it easier to exchange cards and take digital notes when you meet someone instead of scribbling notes onto the back of paper cards.
3. Three Days Before:
a. Check the app and the website for any last minute changes to the program, schedule, exhibitor, and presenter programs. Adjust your schedule accordingly. Do this step each day from now until the end of the tradeshow. There are always last minute changes!
4. One Day Before:
a. Have a quick huddle with your team and make sure everyone knows what they are doing at the show. For example, who will be stopping by the booths of identified exhibitors? Who will seek out new business opportunities? Who's in charge of taking presentation notes? Does it make sense for team members to divide and conquer based on venue locations?
5. Day(s) Of:
a. Stick with your planned schedule; however – build in time for meaningful distractions. For example, if you happen to find yourself in a conversation with a potential business partner that sounds promising, don't cut it short just because you have a strict schedule.
b. Don't just exchange business cards – act on them! Here's how:
- Utilize your pre-blocked calendar time to note the specifics of your follow-up (who and why).
- Use a five star system to identify your priority follow-ups.
6. Day After:
a. Open up your calendar to the time block you've already designated for follow-up. Start to schedule meetings that you threw into that time block from the day(s) before. Either reach out to each new contact directly in that moment and get meetings booked, or reschedule as required until the meetings happen!
b. Add all connections to LinkedIn.
We will definitely follow this plan the next time we register for a business event!
We are confident this framework will help you (and us!) continue to make meaningful connections.
What are some of your favourite tips on how to make tradeshow connections? Let us know in the comments below!