Trade Show Networking Events

Networking is an important aspect of trade show planning, and one that requires some work, both prior to the show as well as during the show. Often, the trade show producers will list networking events on the show’s website in advance of the show. This information is readily available, and exhibitors and attendees should begin making decisions as to which events to attend and where to send your staff.networking image 1-resized-600

Once you arrive at the show, double-check the trade show guide to see if any networking events have been added or changed. You may also find yourself invited to events that are sponsored by other exhibitors – these may be worth checking out as well.

The biggest reason that trade show networking events are held and that people attend them is to build relationships. Keep that in mind while selecting which events to attend and who to send to each event. Consider the relationships that could be built or strengthened by attending each networking event. If there isn’t a a good relationship reason to attend an event, then that event should be skipped.

networking image-resized-600For every event that seems promising, consider the personalities of your staff and send the staff member(s) that will work best at that particular event.  Also consider relationships that may already exist among your staff and key contacts you’re hoping to meet with at the event. If a particular staff member has a good relationship with a key contact who will attend an event, make sure that staff member is at the event as well. 

Once you have assigned staff members to particular networking events, they should sit down and plan their strategies for each event they’re attending. They should know who they want to make contact with while they’re there, and what types of conversations they hope to have. If they don’t have a particular contact name prior to the event, then a company’s name or a position within a particular company would at least give them some direction. They should not just show up at a networking event and hope for the best. There should be a plan.

One other thing to remember about networking at a trade show is that it can happen anywhere at any time. A chance encounter waiting for a cab, standing in a buffet line, or walking to the restroom could each lead to a conversation with someone who could turn out to be the best lead of the whole show. Staff members need to be aware that opportunities to network are everywhere, and they should be willing to talk to anyone

Ensure your staff members are professional at all times, especially remembering that business networking is the goal, and that it is work – it doesn’t mean netdrinking or neteating, etc. So long as your staff have your organization’s best interests and goals at the top of their list of priorities, your networking activities should be a success at any trade show you attend.

For more, check out how to make the most out of industry trade shows or tricks for trade shows.

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