For most people, trade shows are the place to go to discover new products and generate sales/leads for their business. Trade shows offer the chance to market to a targeted audience. They are also a great way to discover new job opportunities. People who attend trade shows should take the opportunity market themselves, especially if they’re “in the market” for a change in employment. Here are five ways to network at a trade show and increase the odds of advancing your career.
Use Social Media
Well before a trade show happens, social media gives you the opportunity to connect with people and build a relationship. Most trade shows are using hashtags on Twitter to gain more exposure and give businesses who have planned their trade show exhibition as well as attendees the chance to connect. You can use this to your advantage to by following everyone who uses the hashtag, engage with them on a personal level, get to know them, and even plan to meet for coffee or lunch together during the trade show.
Don’t forget LinkedIn. Trade shows often have groups created that you can participate in. You can also research companies on LinkedIn who will be exhibiting at the trade shows to be prepared when you visit their booth and talk with their representatives. From the latest news they’ve posted, to what’s being published on their blog, make sure to be educated about what the company is experiencing, planning and doing.
Using social media can be a powerful tool to help you create genuine connections before you meet people in real life. This creates an advantage over people who just show up as an “unknown” person visiting the booth.
*Pro Tip: While at the trade show, take pictures. A great way to get the company's attention is to take a picture of their trade show display booth, utilize the event hashtag and share it on Twitter or Instagram. What company doesn't love free publicity?
Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone
It’s likely you might be attending a trade show with coworkers or friends. There’s nothing wrong with that. But make sure to take the time to walk the exhibition floor by yourself. Visiting some of the companies you’ve identified in your social media research that you’d love to work for by yourself gives you the chance to be focused, instead of distracted by people with you. It may be unnerving to be alone, but the time spent is worth the effort.
Maximize Your Time
Get the most out of your time at the trade show by getting there early and staying late. Being able to network with people before or after the peak hours of the trade show rush gives you an advantage of getting a bit more quality time without the distraction of a crowded sales floor. The pressure to sell isn’t there.
Amplify Your Opportunity
Most businesses have complementary industries that can give you the chance to develop mutually beneficial relationships for yourself and for your company. A plumber might seek out a couple of the local construction companies for a possible partnership. A photographer might look to connect with event planners, or wedding planners. Making yourself or your company known to related companies and businesses to yours could be great for your career.
Don’t Forget To Follow Up
Don’t make the mistake of letting the new connections you made at the trade show go cold. Following up with people you’ve met at the show is incredibly important, especially those people who may be able to help you to advance in your career.
This builds upon the first tip, which is building relationships. Once you’re back at home, send them an email, connect with them on LinkedIn, or continue that conversation on Twitter. Make it a priority to regularly chat with them. Whether it’s sending interesting articles they may find useful, asking for advice or just share something funny.
Trade shows can be a prime opportunity to connect with people and companies if you’re looking for a new job or to advance your career.
Have you used trade shows as a chance to find employment?