Essential Networking Tips at a Trade Show

RENTAL - Custom Island Design, plenty of room for networking

RENTAL – Custom Island Design

The true point of doing trade shows is  networking to meet people and make various business connections. However, if you haven’t done this type of networking before, it’s time to learn some effective techniques so it works more effectively.

Networking comes in various forms at trade shows. You’ll even discover that some trade shows reach out to newbies and help them get started with opportunities to link up with industry people.

Now, if you’re still debating whether it will be worth your time, be sure to read our top 15 benefits of being a trade show exhibitor.

Here are some essential networking tips at trade shows, most of which you can do on your own to attract important people closer to you.

Attending Alone

You may not find it fun to attend a trade show without having business associates or family by your side. While you can travel with them, it’s better to attend the trade show alone. This way, it makes you look more approachable at your booth. Otherwise, you may end up talking too much with the people who came with you, making it more difficult for fellow attendees to start a conversation.

Making Yourself More Visible

It’s important to find ways to stand out at your trade show so you inspire others to come by for a greeting. Products like banners, colorful pop-up displays, and specialized trade show furniture help make your brand stand out.

Some things you can do on your own include inviting business prospects in advance to stop by your booth for a meet and greet.

Creating Memorable Business Cards

Never discount the effectiveness of business cards and how they still attract attention. Others you want to network with take business cards seriously, especially when you design them with a unique design so your brand and message stand out from competitors.

As a personal way to improve your networking, leave a personal note on the back of each card you hand out.

Giving Away Free Items

Everyone likes receiving free things, and handing out a free branded item from your trade booth to a business prospect can set an excellent impression. Don’t just do this alone, though, because conversation is important first. Also, make sure the item you give away is something the prospect can actually use.

Linking Up With Someone You Know

If someone you know is going to attend the trade show, contact them and link up when the event takes place. Working together, you can walk the floor and find prospects you perhaps wouldn’t find on your own.

Consider this similar to a business partnership where those you know help you network with people you thought you’d never have the opportunity to meet. It could lead to a major business deal as a result.

Timing Your Conversations

Some people monopolize conversations, but it’s something to avoid so you network with as many people as you can. Make your conversations short, yet meaningful so you can make a substantial connection.

The secret to success here is to steer the conversation to being about the person and not you. Doing so makes a more memorable impression because too many other businesses frequently make it all about them instead.

Creating an Elevator Pitch

Can you encapsulate everything about your company in a few sentences? It’s essential you create an elevator pitch that lets someone know exactly who you are and what you do without taking too much time. The more you make this natural sounding during a conversation, the better.

Don’t give away too much either since you want your networking prospect to feel curious about wanting to learn more about your business.


Bamboo Collapsible trade show tables and chairs

Using Furniture to Help Guide Conversations

One thing you should never overlook is using comfortable trade show furniture so prospects can sit down and discuss things with you. A common furnishing used at trade shows is a small round table, allowing you and a potential customer/partner to sit eye to eye for a conversation.

Make sure this is in a spot away from loud noises so you won’t have too many distractions. Don’t hesitate to have business pamphlets and other materials on the table an attendee can look over or take with them.

Avoiding Sales Pitches

A major trap those in business get into is trying to sell their products or services upon first meeting while networking. It’s a common problem online, and you should avoid it for in-person meetings as well. Let your booth materials do the selling. During conversations, it’s best to treat your prospects like human beings and not a sales target.

Start conversations about your industry, which can create a good exchange of ideas if they’re in the same line of business you are.

Researching to See Who’s Going to Attend

It pays to research in advance and see who’s attending your trade show. Finding out can help you prepare on who you’ll approach and what you’ll say to them. Nevertheless, don’t stick to a stilted script and let conversations flow naturally so you don’t sound rehearsed.

The above might feel awkward if you’re nervous about meeting someone important. Being prepared yet natural is the best form of success.

Going to Dinner

Setting up dinner dates with prospects is a superior way to network if you’re a newbie. Regardless, set those dinner dates weeks in advance to avoid conflicts in scheduling.

Many trade shows offer special dinners for newbies, hence giving you a perfect forum for making yourself known and discussing more details.

Attending Seminars

It’s always beneficial to arrive early and stay late to trade shows, because seminars may take place later in the day. Attending these are worthwhile because it allows you to meet with influential speakers in your field. If you’re a part of the seminar, it also allows you to speak and reach more potential clients than you could with just a booth.

For more general information, check out article on tips for trade show success or how to engage walk ups to your booth.

Visit us at American Image Displays so we can help provide the tools you need to succeed at your trade show.