Business show season has arrived in south Wales, keeping printers and banner stand designers busy! Attending expos, as either an exhibitor or a visitor, is an excellent way to showcase your brand and meet new contacts – but it can also be the quickest route to exhaustion for the inexperienced! So here’s our guide to surviving – and thriving at – forthcoming events, and making them work for your business:
1. Be prepared (from the Lion King)
Sounds obvious, but take a good look at the programme in advance of the event. Most shows include talks, seminars and events worth timing your visit around, but you might have to book onto them beforehand. Make a note of the exhibitors you want to speak to and check out the floor plan – some venues are huge!
2. Hello, is it me you’re looking for? (Lionel Richie)
You’re there to meet lovely new people, after all, so, tempting though it might be to hide behind the tea urn, take a deep breath and put that 30-second pitch into practice. If you really find it hard to strike up chit chat with strangers, see 1, above; most shows include networking events, at which talking to strangers is obligatory, so you won’t be the only one.
3. The sound of silence (Simon & Garfunkel)
It’s good to talk… but not too much. A 20-minute speed networking session, for example, is, for the uninitiated, exhausting enough without then completing a circuit of the Motorpoint Arena. Go armed with a bottle of water and find a quiet corner to take five every now and again.
4. Hand in my pocket (Alanis Morissette)
Have deep pockets – not because business shows are expensive, necessarily, but for all those business cards. You’ll accumulate lots; some from the aforementioned lovely new people you’ll want to meet again and some from, er, other people. Have one ‘meet again’ pocket and one for the others; just don’t walk off muttering ‘that’s definitely one for the bin’ within earshot.
5. The winner takes it all (ABBA)
If you’re exhibiting, give visitors a reason to come over and chat. A winning smile goes a long way but a bottle of sparkly stuff or luxury chocolates will go much further (unless you look like Poldark, then the smiling will do it). Remember to take a nice bowl or vase to pop those business cards into for the prize draw.
6. I can’t help myself (The Four Tops)
Try not to eat (or drink) the prize. This is a real danger when you’re manning a stand for six hours with a fixed grin clamped to your face and no chance of a loo break. Rope in a friend to help you, take regular breaks and leave the Miniature Heroes alone.