Networking in Surrey

As a solo-preneur, I don't take a stand at Exhibitions and Expos, preferring to make an exhibition of myself as I wander round my captive audience of Exhibitors and engage in passing conversations with other Visitors. Being static on a stand would cramp my style - but I can see how they work well for other businesses, provided they do it right.

[Photo: Woking Means Business Expo]

Here's a few random thoughts on how to make the most of having a stand...

Manning a stand is not a grunt job for junior staff. Have a couple of experienced people there to show how it's done, by example, on the job.

Break the eye-avoiding daze visitors walk around in.

  • If you have a big team, rotate them so they are always fresh, and send the reserves 'on the bench' around the expo to meet other exhibitors (having trained them as to what you expect from them).
  • Have an offer and call to action clearly visible on the stand - 'Claim your free XYZ here on our stand today!'
  • Jeremy Webb and his associates selling business consultancy services once branded their stand 'Stop and Talk!' and staff wore badges with that on them. What a great conversation starter!
  • One stand at an expo I visited employed a person with excellent eyesight who could read a name badge at twenty feet away and greet visitors by name as we walked by. 'Good morning, Keith!' stopped me in my tracks.

If you offer a prize draw to gather business cards, make sure that as well as the main prize (usually champagne or better) you offer other prizes (don't call them second, third etc) affordable enough for there to be lots of winners. There's nothing worse than that 'Dear John' email the next day telling me I haven't won but would I like to buy their stuff? Make one of the prizes a free report or ebook that you can send to all entrants (not a 'free assessment' aka sales appointment please) so everyone's a winner.

And finally - it's all about the follow-up. An expo needs to be the start of two-way conversations with your prospects, not a dead end and a shoebox full of business cards...

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