So I attended my first ever expo a few weeks ago with the explicit intention of building brand awareness in my community. Now….whilst I hardly lack confidence and, quite frankly, have no problem with self-promotion, the idea of heading to an expo (which I hadn’t paid for) to pitch at people (who had), made me a little sick to my stomach. However, I felt the demographic was appropriate (Jews in property) and was a sector I am genuinely keen to enter, so felt it was time I made a concerted effort to take myself out of my comfort zone. Well folks – mission accomplished. Of course, as in all inspiring business stories, it does have a happy ending with some lessons learnt along the way. So to make sure you are fully prepared for your expo; here are my top tips:
- Business Cards
I ran out. I went to a business expo with the sole purposing of networking and ran out of business cards. A situation that was far from ideal. Used to attending much smaller networking events, my handy box simply was not enough to handle the sheer magnitude of attendees. Take double, take triple the amount of business cards you would normally, because trust me there is little more embarrassing than having to write your details on the back of a hastily found scrap of paper.
2. Memory…distant water coloured memory
You will talk to a lot of people. Some will go well, some less so. The problem is, of course, that you will take business cards off everyone. Meaning you will end up with an arsenal of cards, which the next day will all merge into similar looking pieces of paper with random names. So, if you do have a pertinent conversation, then make a note of that person’s name and the bullet points you discussed; meaning you know who to pay special attention to when following up
3. Fake it till you make it
The truth is that approaching new people is a little uncomfortable, particularly if you are trying to sell. However, what I genuinely found is that as the day went on this got easier and easier. Of course, there were some individuals who shot me down faster than Paris Hilton when exposed to a carb, but such is life. I even found a rhythm; first I would introduce myself (all smiles mind) and then would ask them questions, before wishing them well and that they found business. Like in all things, sometimes you will click and other moments you will want the ground to swallow you up, but such is the journey of a business owner
I would advise going a little later. Let’s be honest, exhibitors are paying good money to show off their wares and their primary concern is with selling. And most of the serious punters will be there early doors, allow them the opportunity to meet potential customers before arriving a little after lunch time. I also implore you, if there is a queue you wait your turn politely and considerately. No one buys from a dick head
This final point is a two parter, both a little mums-y, but I’m going with it. Firstly, I would advise against getting drunk at an expo as one individual clearly did. This gentleman was a little older than my own father (so 35…hi dad!) and came rather too close for comfort asking for my details, before reassuring me that, “I was safe with him because he had a daughter my age,” whilst swaying from side to side and frankly smelling like a brewery. Delightful.
Secondly, I would advise drinking lots of water…these halls can get a tad stuffy and dehydration is rife so don’t forget your good ol’ water bottle.
If you would like to discuss anything actually content marketing related feel free to check out my website www.helenbaker.com or drop me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org. You could even give me a ring on 0208 629 6465.