As business development consultants, Magnolias Consulting Group can offer many different ways to help increase sales and help grow your business. We can work with your business to increase your search visibility, update your website, find new clients and more; however, in the end, business is still based on relationships. As a result, we always recommend that clients leave budget for trade shows and conferences.
Networking is usually a right place, right time kind of situation. Everyone knows how hard cold calling can be. Yet walk into a trade show and meet the same person you called; the tone will be completely different. It is about finding people in a situation where the culture and atmosphere breeds new relationships.
When you are walking through a trade show, everyone is there for only one reason... to talk and meet new people that may be able to help their own business. Besides branded networking events and business sponsored events, few other places allow for this kind of atmosphere.
Before attending a conference there is a couple of things that you can do to prepare. First, take a look at the list of companies with booths at the event. Make a list of companies that could be of benefit to your business in some way. Research each one by looking at their website, looking up recent news and knowing how they can help you out. The more information you have, the easier it will be to keep a conversation moving, and ultimately to develop a relationship.
During the trade show, be active in your quest for information. Pick up booth resources and collect business cards (also do not forget a stack of business cards of your own). It is not a good feeling when you forget the key contact name at the business you were sourcing information from.
The benefits of attending trade conferences run beyond networking as well. Many times the shows are where you get ideas for your own business and judge where the market is moving. At some shows, and depending on your intentions for attending, it is worth bringing a notebook along to write down some of the interesting things that you see.
Finally, when you return from the trade show, we like to contact and connect on Linkedin with all of the key contact that we made right away. If you have made more contacts then you have time to connect with, prioritize and delegate. Prioritize the most valuable contacts for your business right away and contact them first. Also, try to delegate with your team, contacting everyone you met as soon as possible.