6 Ways to Network After Hours at a Business Conference or Trade Show

trade show networking

Attending a business conference and committing to a trade show booth is a big commitment, and requires a lot of planning and hard work. And while you might be focusing on your strategy to network during the trade show you may be missing out on a huge opportunity to expand your outreach beyond the trade show. Think outside the ‘booth’ and plan creative ways to connect with your leads after the trade show.

  1. Connect on Social Media: When done properly, social media can be quite beneficial, especially with pre-show and post-show networking. Follow and use the official hashtag of the event so you can familiarize yourself with attendees and engage with others. This is a great way to soften your approach or to offer incentives and prizes for people to visit your booth. Following up with your leads on LinkedIn after the trade show is a great way to make a lasting business relationship.
  2. Plan a Dinner Party: Everyone needs to eat, even the busiest trade show attendee. Reach out to your top leads you connected with before or during the networking event and invite them to dinner. If you are a large company consider renting out a ballroom in the hotel and providing a catered meal.
  3. Host Happy Hour: Yes, you can (and should) host a happy hour at your hotel or nearby restaurant. Grabbing drinks with leads you’re trying to win over is a great way to build a lasting relationship beyond a business contract. If the event you’re attending already has a happy hour lined up consider sponsoring a round of drinks.
  4. Fill Your Schedule: Attending a business conference or trade show that requires travel is a huge expense. Make the most out of the time you have and attend networking events beyond the main trade show. Book meetings with your leads or current business in your proximity before or after the day of the trade show.
  5. Book a Unique Location: If you’ve spent time and money personalizing your trade show display to fit your brand you may not want to pack up and send to storage right after the show is over. Take your trade show display to a unique venue, such as a scenic park or a local zoo and rent out space to host your current and potential customers. Choosing an event space that is out of the ordinary will stand out from the competition during a week full of networking events.
  6. Follow Up: Whether you’re brand new to the trade show business or a seasoned vendor, a good reminder is to always follow up. While the purpose of attending a trade show or business conference is to share your product and information, a huge factor in success is going to depend upon the relationships you build, in and out of the trade show booth.

Organizing networking opportunities well before the week of the show will give your business a huge advantage against the competition. Make a plan and schedule out your meetings with top leads to ensure you aren’t wasting time or money attending the show. If you’re interested in using trade show marketing for your business, contact us!


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