6 networking tips and strategies for trade show exhibitors
For some people, networking comes naturally. For others, it can be an uncomfortable and sometimes daunting experience. Not everyone has an easy time starting a conversation with a stranger and keeping it going.
As is the case with so many things in life, practice and know-how make perfect. Here are ten useful tips and tricks for making networking easier at the next EuroShop.
- Set your networking goals
The goals of trade fair exhibitors are as varied as the products and exhibitors you will find at the show. Do you want to attract new clients? Are you looking for partners to collaborate with? Are you a startup seeking investors or a company rich in tradition that wants to expand its presence? Set your goals before the start of the trade fair and develop the appropriate strategy.
A trade fair is also the ideal venue to foster existing business relations with clients. As an exhibitor in Düsseldorf, you have the opportunity to distribute entry vouchers for EuroShop in the run-up to the trade fair – an effective marketing strategy for your company and a chance to use the trade fair for business negotiations and meetings. To find out more about the voucher service, please click here.
- Everyone is different
People want to sense that the other person is genuinely interested in them and doesn’t just want to talk at them. That’s why you should ask many questions! Show your interest in other people! A conversation with a young startup founder is different from meeting an established entrepreneur, a conversation with a woman is different from chatting with a man, talking with an Italian is different from communicating with a Japanese person. Listen to your conversation partners, take in what they say and adapt!
- Being in the right place at the right time
Some places are better suited for networking than others. Of course, as an exhibitor, you focus on your own booth. After all, this is where you can showcase your products and have the “home advantage”. But keep in mind that not every prospect comes to you, sometimes you actually have to approach him or her. Take advantage of all the available options EuroShop offers you! Boost your presence, attend booth parties, exhibitor evenings and forums! Plus: Use the “Matchmaking for exhibitors” service by Messe Düsseldorf prior to the event and set up appointments in advance. Click here for details.
- Stay focused on your goals!
Networking always means striking a balance between personal and professional life. You start to talk about personal subjects, find common ground and may even enjoy a drink or two. It’s easy to lose sight of your goal to acquire a new business lead. Without pushing too hard, try to gently steer the conversation back to the business at hand, set up follow-up meetings, explain products and services or discuss potential business ideas. And don’t forget to collect business cards or use the easy Scan2Lead service of Messe Düsseldorf. It enables you to simply scan and save your contact’s information via the barcode on the visitor ticket. For more information on Scan2Lead, please click here.
- Should you use the German formal or familiar form of “you”?
There truly is no easy answer to this somewhat difficult question. In a German setting, etiquette depends on the environment and situation. If you want to play it safe, introduce yourself using your full name and wait for the response of your counterpart. If he or she only uses his or her first name, the stage is set for a more familiar setting. (Mind you, this is not a typical scenario in the English-speaking realm). Yet if he or she also responds with their full name, make sure to refer to your counterpart as “Mr.” or “Ms.”, respectively!
It is not uncommon to eventually transition into a more informal setting and switch from formal last names to a first-name basis. But who should initiate this transition? German etiquette tends to take a more conservative approach and suggests considering the age and job description of your counterpart. If he or she is older than you or has a higher job ranking, play it safe and don’t be the initiator!
- Stay on the ball
Don’t drop the (networking) ball after EuroShop is over! Foster your contacts and follow-up with them. Connect with your prospects in a timely manner via a professional network, send e-mails and call them! Remind them how you met at the trade fair, tie in your common interests or mutual acquaintances and ask questions! Do you have an actual request for your lead? Spell it out for him or her! Apart from that, stay in touch! Make sure they remember your name and company!
Your EuroShop team hopes you collect many valuable leads!
Compiled by Sonja Koller, EuroShop editorial team