Here's what they had to say:
Attending industry trade shows, even infrequently, is a crucial step in growing your business, your contact base and strengthening your brand. Here are a couple things I do religiously in order to have a successful outing. People's business cards aren't library books, so write on them! Anything that will trigger your memory and help you nurture the seed you've planted. Following-up is something many people don't do properly, especially after getting back to the office to play catch-up.
— Benny, International Sales & Marketing, NoCreditCard.com
Meetings, meetings, meetings. As most of us have to communicate with our clients and/or suppliers online, setting up as many face-to-face meetings gives you a unique opportunity to create new relationships and solidify existing ones. Before a show I attempt to line up as many meetings as possible by finding out who will be attending, both exhibitors and visitors. I also always try to be the first one on the show floor in the morning and the last one to leave, which can be tedious but often pays off.
— Paul Pastore, VP of Operations, XXContentDirect.com, ExtremeFeeds.com
First off, always have a home base. With the hustle and bustle of these shows it's important to have somewhere to meet, display marketing materials, and go to when discussions require more than a quick order or passing of business cards. Secondly, I make sure to pencil in nightly events surrounding the show itself, such as parties, mixers, and group dinners. As most of us salespeople have learned ... 50 percent of your business and contacts (if not more) are made with drink in hand rather than on the show floor.
— Joanie Lee, VP, Tightfit Productions
SmashBucks from day one has always looked and tried to do things a little different. I think personally for us the goals for a trade show have changed; first meeting those people, having those experiences with them in different countries, then putting those relationships into motion.
— Mike Hawk, Co-founder, SmashBucks
Preparation prior to a show is paramount. Prior to any show, be resourceful and locate who will be attending and the applicable value the attendees can provide you in building your business. Researching these individuals/teams, you can secure meetings previous to the show and surpass the preliminary introductions. In turn, your objectives and expectations can be illustrated in a pre-proposal, and proactive action plans do not go unnoticed by potential new clients. If you are sales manager, you can prepare your team by building an itinerary of preset breakfast meetings, social events, meetings, speaking engagements and overall coordination of executing your plan of attack as a team.
— Silvercash Albert, Vice President of Business Development, Silvercash and Silver Sinema