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Six top tips for trade show first-timers

Posted by Ella Delancey on 16th February 2015

Trade shows are excellent opportunities to network, promote your company, and gather quality business leads. However, they can also be daunting places, with huge spaces, thousands of business cards and all those hands to shake. Running an exhibition stand, or just attending a trade show is hard work – especially after the first day or so!

However, Wildfire is here to help, with our top tips for surviving, and absolutely nailing it – whether you’re exhibiting, or simply just attending your first trade show. This guide may even prove useful for a seasoned professional!

Have a strategy

Walking into a trade show blind is a bad idea. Request a copy of the companies attending, and the conferences. Highlight the company stands you particularly want to visit, and make a plan. You could even set up time slots to talk to people prior to the show. Timing and organisation are key.

Don’t go alone

Trade shows are usually big places, and it’s possible you won’t see everything that you want to see. Taking a colleague along means that you can split your efforts and confer afterwards. Similarly, if you are exhibiting, taking someone along means that your stand will never be unattended, minimalising missed opportunities.

Social media stalking

Having a little look at Twitter and searching for people tweeting at the show can be useful. You can see who is talking to whom, and you may spot a few key contacts you would have otherwise missed.

Keep your eyes peeled

Be social at workshops – now is the time to hand out one of those millions of business cards you’ve brought with you. Watch out for industry leaders, they often haunt trade shows, and they’re great people to get in front of.

Following through with following up

After a few days at a trade show, you may just want to crawl into bed for a week. However, following up with any new contacts or sales leads soon after the show is best, whilst you’re still fresh in their minds.

Staying bright and alert

It may sound obvious, but it’s usually good practice to be reasonably pleasant to everyone you meet at the trade show. This can be quite difficult when you’re tired, hungry and you feel like you’ve spoken to everyone. Motivate yourself with some healthy snacks; take a couple of laps around the room. Drink lots of water, and moderate your caffeine.

photo credit: Lanyards & Nametags

Ella Delancey

A trained journalist, with a degree in English Language and Journalism from Kingston University, Ella began her career writing for local newspapers such as The River, followed by several internships within the media industry, including stints in fashion PR and social media agencies. These experiences fuelled her transition from journalism to PR, allowing Ella to combine her writing and creative skills with a deeply instilled ‘news sense’ to ensure she maximises coverage for her clients at every opportunity.