By Tim Groot CEO and co-founder of Grip
Regular exhibitors know that having effective networking skills is important to their ultimate success at a trade show or exhibition. They already know the benefits of encouraging potential customers to visit their stand and will have invested time and money into providing the best possible event experience.
But many may not have considered a full-circle networking strategy which works before, during and after an event or exhibition?
Making the most of technology certainly offers a way for people to refine their networking strategy but it’s sometimes difficult to know where to start in the run up to a show when there are a million and one things to do.
So how can show exhibitors take their networking to the next level all year round? Targeted, effective networking can lead to building long term and highly beneficial working relationships.
By matching interests, topics and categories, the right recommendations can be made on who to make contact with. At a large event this takes the chance element out of business networking.
I recommend a number of ways that event organisers can ensure their exhibitors make the perfect business match with the thousands that attend large shows including:
1. Making full use of the event’s app.
At Grip we have found that exhibitors which complete their profiles on the event’s app make more meaningful connections than those who don’t. Establishing detailed, relevant and up-to-date information about the exhibitor’s company based on social media and data input will make a huge difference to attracting the right people to their stands. Grip’s own AI powered matchmaking app, recently used at 4YN Barcelona (part of Mobile World Congress) and Slush, allows exhibitors to register and prioritise the categories they are interested in, enabling a comprehensive map where aligned interests can be recommended and matched.
2. Preparing in advance.
Creating a full schedule in advance of the event will give exhibitors a head start. With the established profile created on the event’s app, matchmaking can begin immediately with attendees and exhibitors scheduling appointments in advance. Using an app like Grip lessens the chance of exhibitors contending with a list of ‘maybes’ as only the most relevant people will have been recommended to them.
3. Maximising face-to-face contact.
The best networkers are those who make the most of their face-to-face contact with the people they can potentially do business with. Grip takes the hard work out of networking when users swipe right to indicate interest in another user. When both parties swipe right, it results in the app’s legendary ‘handshake’ and contact details are shared. But once that appointment to meet is made, it is up to the user to ensure the face-to-face contact is of value. There are plenty of ways to do this from asking enough questions about what a potential customer or business partner actually wants to providing hospitality on a stand which could be in the form of a simple glass of wine!
4. Capturing the best business leads.
At a major exhibition or show, there is never enough time in the day. Having an effective way to capture the most important business leads can save hours of wasted time. Grip’s matchmaking app, for example, allows exhibitors to quickly swipe through to the contacts that interest them. Developing a more relevant database of contacts to follow-up will provide a larger number of ‘warm leads’ and networking will feel a lot more effective.
5. Analysing the data.
For the exhibiting company, it’s all about the ROI. Exhibiting at a trade show costs money and the company will want to see the numbers. Meaningful insights and hard data on how connections have been made are more likely to lead to sales. An app like Grip allows exhibitors to see at a glance which industry sectors made the best connections to their sales teams. Keeping the connections going post-event will lead to results which affect the bottom line in time.
There’s no doubt that having a process for networking and developing business contacts is more effective than a more random approach based on chance. At Grip, we like to say that our AI powered matchmaking helps to take the guesswork out of networking, a bit like sorting the wheat from the chaff. And when you’ve got it sorted, that process becomes more effective than ever before.