12 Trade Show Networking Tips for Entrepreneurs

Twelve powerful tips to network like a pro at your next trade show.

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According to Exhibit Surveys Inc.’s annual Trade Show Trends report, “84 percent of trade show attendees have the power to recommend, specify, and/or make final purchasing decisions. Perhaps more importantly, 49 percent came to 2012 shows with real purchasing intent.”

If trade show attendance and exhibiting is a component of your marketing strategy, there are simple ways to maximize your presence and build your business with key decision makers. Most importantly, trade shows can offer high impact networking opportunities that every entrepreneur can leverage.

Here are twelve powerful tips to network like a pro at your next trade show.


1. Attend your next trade show, alone.

“If you’ve ever been to a trade show, you know it can be difficult to approach someone who’s already in a conversation. So don’t bring a guest to the ‘party’. If you go alone, you’ll look more approachable and it’ll be easier for you to approach others too.”

– Ronnie Castro, Co-Founder of Porch, @rcastro831


2. Do your homework.

“Know who is going to be there and who you want to target. Some [trade] shows actually list attendees before the event and have a social interface to communicate with them.”

– Simon Slade, CEO of Salehoo Group Limited, @simonslade


3. Schedule meet and greets beforehand.

“[Develop] a target list of must-meet, great-to-meet and nice-to-meet.  Be persistent in meeting with them either through setting up early morning breakfast mornings before the show hits, circling the show a few times in the afternoon or staying late.”

– Shawn Harris, Founder and CEO of Nyopoly, @nyopolycom


4. Create a lead capture system.

“Create a lead capturing and follow-up system, stick with it, and follow-up after the trade show. So many companies don’t think about how to capture the leads until they hit the show floor. By then it’s too late!”

– Lauren L. Darr, President of LOI International, @laurendarr


5. Engage in quick and relevant conversations.

“It is not how many business cards you hand out, but how many you collect. When you meet a person, make the conversation about him or her, not about you. The more interested you are in the other person and his or her work, the more memorable you will be to that person.”

– Jason Swett, CEO of Snip Salon Software, @JasonSwett


6. Perfect your elevator pitch.

“Have your elevator [pitch] ready. Be prepared to tell the highlights of who you are and what your company is about. You should be able to do this quickly, and your listener should walk away with good information and a desire to know more.”

– Lani Derrick, Owner of Elle Dee Design, @elledeedesign

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