Without the pressure of running a stand to promote your own business, trade fairs and consumer shows are great places to network and forge good business relationships.
Face-to-face contact with customers and suppliers can make the wheels of your business turn more smoothly. You can meet new prospects, carry out market research, investigate your competitors and find new sources of revenue.
Planning your visit to an exhibition
One of the main benefits of attending an exhibition is that you can meet large numbers of useful people in one place. Trade show visitors, like exhibitors, need to plan ahead to make the most of these opportunities.
It's worth setting up appointments in advance so that you don't waste too much time browsing and talking to people you already know. It's vital that you focus on meeting the most useful people for your business.
To find out more about events that could help your business, contact the relevant trade association or your local Chamber of Commerce. It's also worth talking to your customers about which events they attend, and why.
Before you choose which event to attend, you should think carefully about what type of people you want to meet. Exhibition organisers can give you detailed information about both the exhibitors and the visitors that come to their event.
Think about the kind of products and services you're interested in, to ensure that the event has the right type of exhibitors.
There will be opportunities to network with other visitors. The organisers can provide detailed information about the type of people who attend their show, including their business activity, their job titles and their spending power.
What to do at the exhibition
Exhibitions and trade fairs provide the chance to meet suppliers, check out new industry developments and keep a close eye on your competition. You can get your hands on new products, attend demonstrations and compare features and prices. At the same time, you can meet exhibitors and ask them detailed questions.
Don't leave your meetings to chance. Before the show, it's worth making contact with the key people you want to see, such as customers, prospects and suppliers. Make arrangements to meet during the show, and ensure you have their mobile number.
Do your own research before an event so you're well prepared for your meetings. Take plenty of business cards and any literature you want to give out.
Networking at business exhibitions
Make time to attend relevant events that are running alongside the show. Speeches by important industry figures, workshops, seminars and panel discussions can be informative and attract many of the key players in a sector.
These events are also ideal environments for networking. Introduce yourself - everyone is wearing a badge, and is there to talk business. By taking the initiative, you can promote yourself and your business and make valuable contacts. It helps to get invited to receptions and hospitality suites.
Finally, to get the most out of exhibition attendance, it's worth setting specific targets so you can measure the success of the exhibition after the event.