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Getting The Most From a Trade Show

by Robert Garment, Executive Editor | September 13, 2006
Rule #1 -- Plan ahead. Way ahead. If you're going to be an Exhibitor, almost every show has 'early bird' deals that can save a lot of money. Some of these deals start a year in advance, so check them out early. And if you're an attendee, you can often get a discount for registering early.

Rule #2 -- Prepare every detail. When you get to the show and start to set up your booth -- which usually has to be done in a very short period of time -- make sure you have everything you need from A-to-Z. If you don't have something, even little things, you won't have time to find it or buy it, and since you're in a new city, you won't know where to buy easily. It's a time killer.

Rule #3 -- Be aggressive. All trade show attendees go with a mission and companies they want to see. They may not plan to see you, but could easily want what you have. As attendees walk the aisles they're on their way somewhere, and not to see you. So you have to speak up and catch their attention. Be friendly, be creative, cajole people, and be aggressive. Give them a reason to spend 5 minutes with you. Qualify them too, some people may be dry holes. But don't stand back and wait for them to make the first move -- they won't.

Rule #4 -- Take good care of your leads. New leads are why you go to a show, and they're the gold you've mined. So mind your gold with your life. Take notes at the show about anything the people you meet specifically want. When you get back home, you can send them a personalized note to follow up. If you have general contacts, send them a generalized "nice to have met you" message, and tell them you will call them soon to see how you can help them.