How do you make the most of your time spent visiting an expo?
Expos are a brilliant place to meet new contacts, collaborators, suppliers and clients. Our top tips will help you prepare for the expo and make sure you maximize your time there.
Preparing for the expo – what to do BEFORE the event
Decide who you’d definitely like to meet
- Exhibitor lists / floorplans will often be issued ahead of time, keep an eye out on social media or on your email account for these
- Print the floorplan and list off. If you recognize any businesses you definitely want to speak to then highlight them. If your time at the expo will be limited perhaps split down into ‘Must meet’, ‘Would like to meet’. If you’re unsure who other businesses are then Google them. Everyone falls into the category ‘might be great to meet, just don’t know yet!’
Make sure you’ve got business cards printed and the info is up to date.
- You’ll need them on the day to swap with everyone you meet
- You’ll need them for entering business card draws
- Crossing out the phone number and adding another before handing them over doesn’t look great.
Check out the seminars
- Check out the seminars and workshops running on the day. Often these are with industry experts and are aimed at all sizes and shapes of business
- If they require pre-registration then remember to register and note down the start/finish times. NB! Arrival in the seminar room should be at least 5 minutes before.
Check whether there’s a café onsite and if food is available.
Consider arranging to meet your contacts there
- Chat to your clients, business friends and suppliers. Will they be attending or exhibiting?
- Arrange to visit their stand / meet them for a coffee and build on your current relationships while there.
- They might not know about the expo and will be pleased you told them about it.
Don’t forget to register for the expo!
- Most expos require pre-registration
- Do make sure you register as some organisers provide badges for all attendees
- Some require printed tickets for entrance which are scanned, check confirmation emails
- Pre registration saves time – If a badge isn’t printed you may have to wait while one is made for you.
NB! To check whether you’ve registered for an event hosted on Eventbrite (as many are these days), log into your Eventbrite account, click the button with profile photo/name on it towards the top right, the first item in drop down is ‘Tickets’ it will show all the events you’re registered to attend.
On the day of the expo
In a nutshell:
- Decide how long you’ll be spending at the expo and make sure your visit coincides with your chosen seminars
- If there’s no food available there and you’ll be there all day or over lunch make yourself a packed lunch!
- Take business cards with you, and printed information if you’ve got some. Don’t overtly give these out though (see NB! below)
- Take your highlighted floorplan / list (if applicable) so you know which businesses you wanted to chat to
- Chat to exhibitors, visitors and anyone else making sure you take notes
- Attend seminars
- Attend any networking that takes place while you’re there
- Post decent quality photos on social using the expo #tag it should be obvious what it is, mention the expo TwitterID too if you’ve room – eg. our hashtag / #tag is #LLE2018 and our TwitterID is @lovelocalexpo
- Follow up afterwards!
If floorplans weren’t available before the day they should be given to you on arrival at the expo. It’s worth sitting down somewhere and taking five minutes to read through who’s there and highlight as above.
If all delegates on a stand are busy then move onto another stand and come back. Tick businesses off that you speak to and make notes on all your conversations. Perhaps annotate them with the stand number if you have a floorplan to hand. Make sure you swap business cards so you’ve got people’s details and don’t have to rely on them contacting you. Anything can happen between someone taking your card then not getting back to you!
Attend the seminars you’ve booked on to, don’t be afraid to chat to fellow attendees before it and do take part in one or more networking slots if they’re on while you’re there. Expos sometimes have speed networking which means meeting a lot of people in a short space of time. Business cards are a must, especially for speed networking.
Most stands will have some form of competition or prize draw – or both – many just require a business card to enter. Be aware that doing this means you’ll be contacted by the business in question as you’ve showed an interest in their services. If you’re genuinely interested then that’s great, if not interested at all then maybe don’t enter!
As above, keep notes from conversations with exhibitors and other people you meet on the day.
NB! If you’ve ever exhibited at an expo and had a visitor come up to your stand and start trying to sell to you, you’ll know how unwelcome that is, if you haven’t known this then just take it from us, it’s not ideal!
Following up after the expo
Follow up on all conversations with exhibitors, other visitors, seminar attendees and networking contacts from the day. A huge amount of people attend events then don’t follow up. Don’t waste the seeds of relationships you’ve sown.
Personalise emails with the person’s name and a small piece of information from a conversation with them. If you’re copying and pasting email content then double check you’ve got the right name for the email address, there’s nothing worse than getting an email addressed to Steve when you’re called Rachel! If you’ve had a good chat with someone then call them or say in the email you’ll give them a call in a couple of days, and make sure you do.
Some people follow up the day after, some a few days, some a week later. We would suggest following up by the end of the week after the expo (at the very latest) or you lose out on any relationship momentum. Connect with businesses on social media, follow them on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn – it’s easier than ever to keep in touch with people now.