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    Make an EXHIBITION of yourself!

    Networking is a term that all professionals are familiar with. An exercise that is often carried out in collaboration with strategy, heaps of self-motivation, and sometimes, along with a pinch of a drink that is…somewhat strong. Yes…as vital as it is, networking can appear VERY intimidating.

    Relationships are the ultimate facilitator for success; people do business with people they trust…but ultimately, with the people they like. Networking is all about making connections, building mutually beneficial relationships, and achieving a satisfactory level of trust among current & potential Clients. Sound familiar?

    Networking at Exhibitions

    Very much like networking, participating in exhibitions assists brands in creating and solidifying connections and trust with their targeted audience. Thus far, according to the CEIR “The Marketing Spend Decision” report, organisations that participate in business-to-business trade shows spend 41% of their marketing budget on trade and exhibition shows. This statistic translates into the realisation that it’s most likely a great idea to network at exhibitions; whether you’re an exhibitor or a visitor, it’s an opportunity to grasp with both hands.

    The Visitor:

    1. Know what you want to achieve from the day.

    With the wealth of exhibition stands to visit and seminars to attend, there is only so much you can do. If your aim is to meet a number of new people, or forge contacts with particular companies, you will budget your time wisely.
    Select the seminars you’re most eager to attend before the event, and make sure you get to the relevant seminar room in plenty of time. Many people miss out due to seminar rooms being too full when they arrive.

    2. Remember why other people are there.

    If you want to connect with other people at an exhibition, be aware of why they are there, and respect that. If you would like to forge a relationship with exhibition stand holders to potentially do business with, avoid hogging their time and rather approach them when their stand isn’t too busy. Ask to speak to their senior manager, who is often the right person to speak to as he/she tends to stand back to ensure that everything is going well on their stand, rather than being the first person to speak to visitors.

    3. Don't have lunch, or a cup of coffee on your own

    If you're an active networker, you're probably struggling to fit all of the one-to-one meetings you promise people into your diary. Use business exhibitions to kill two birds with one stone and find out who else is going.
    Tap into your network and ask who is attending the exhibition show. Look through the list of exhibitors and determine if there is anyone there whom you are due to meet.

    No-one wants to stay on their feet all day on an exhibition stand. You need a break every now and then. Pre-arrange a couple of meetings for those breaks and meet fellow networkers for a coffee or a spot of lunch.

    The Exhibitor:

    1. Give people some space.

    Show respect to people visiting exhibitions. When they visit exhibitions, people are shopping. If you go to a shopping centre, you don't necessarily want to go into every store; you browse, see what catches your eye and enter the store to find out more on what you are genuinely interested in or curious about. It’s the very same at an exhibition.

    2. Remember, the person who gets the most visitors to their exhibition stand isn't necessarily the winner.

    Think about how you like to be treated when you shop. Much like a shop's window display, make sure that your exhibition stand is attractive and clearly demonstrates what you have to offer. Your team should be approachable and friendly, ready to attend to anyone who wants to find out more. Hunting down passers-by, pursuing them around the exhibition hall until they listen to your pitch, will not win you friends.

    3. The personal brand experience

    One golden rule of any networking or sales approach is to make every person you interact with feel unique. That doesn't mean that you can't mass-mail if people just drop their business cards into a competition draw bowl; however, if you have had a conversation with a genuinely interested party, keep their card separate.

    Keep a record of each conversation your team has with visitors to your exhibition stand, together with a note of what you have promised to do to follow up. Ideally, the person who had the conversation should also manage the follow up, even if it's just an email to pass them onto someone else. Maintain that personal connection.

    Networking at a trade or exhibition show can produce extraordinary results. Just remember the above networking etiquette pointers, and make it a point to make yourself an exhibition!

    SSQ Exhibitions is a design and project management agency that is dedicated to creating targeted experiences, especially customised for YOU! If you would like to contact the SSQuad to discuss your requirements for your next upcoming project, call us on: 011 792 1241 or send us an email at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Information retrieved from the following source:
    - “Making an exhibition of yourself”- by Andy Lopata.

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    EXSA enables connections through the networking and communication of our Forums and via our website (www.exsa.co.za).

    Besides providing EXSA’s directory of members, an exhibitions calendar and news feed, the EXSA website also offers a wealth of knowledge and industry guidelines available to its members.

     

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