Traveling for business and attending a trade show or conference that are relevant to your work is a wonderful way to expand your network and gain insight into potential leads. Often, after tiring, week-long events it’s easy to forget that there’s lots of work to follow in order to make the most out of your trip.
I know the feeling of being exhausted after a long trade show or conference. After you finally unpack all the things you took to the expo and get back to your usual routine, it’s easy to lose sight of why you attended the event in the first place.
In her article for Small Business BC, Allison Boulton shares some expert tips and tricks on “What To Do After Returning Home From a Tradeshow”.
Establish a Goal and Track Leads
In a 2010 study, it was found that 98% of attendees collect leads at events. Despite this large number, only 47% track them and follow-up. By not having a goal and keeping track of leads you’re losing out on potential business and missing your opportunity to stand out ahead of from the competition.
By following up with people who you met, you truly get what you paid for. Not only do you build your network with new contacts, you are also showing professionalism to potential clients. If you fail to follow-up, your time, effort and money will have gone to waste. That phone call or email is necessary to grow and establish a relationship with your potential client, so don’t wait.
Despite the fact that you’re tired from your trade show, following up in a timely manner is crucial. For local events it’s 1-3 days and for international events, 7-10 days. You don’t want to wait too long to make contact.
Make It Personal
The blank back of a business card is often under-utilized. By using this space to write notes about where and when you met, you’ll automatically stand out. The Linked-In “how we met” tool is another great opportunity to capture these details. If you are hosting a booth, make a notebook of more detailed notes about potential client needs. Keeping track of such specifics will not only help to jog your memory during follow ups, it will also show your competency and professionalism.
Call to Action
When you’re in the process of following up, make sure that your call-to-action is specific. Whether it’s the subject or closing line of your email or phone call, get their attention and give them a tangible action that they can use to continue the growth of this new relationship.
At these events, you tend to meet a lot of people and contacting all of them can be an incredibly time-consuming activity. Because of this, it’s important to prioritize your follow ups in terms of opportunity.
Approach networking follow-up as a give-and-take relationship where you will gain as well as offer value. The value can be outside the business sphere. Perhaps at the trade you show you learned that one of your contacts is planning a trip to Bermuda and you’ve been there before. Offer to email her a few restaurant recommendations. Being a value to someone will make it easier to reach out to people.