Exhibitions: PLEASE don’t be boring!

Networking hat

Wearing my networking hat!

I’ve just returned from a business exhibition, with bags full of bumph that’s going straight into the recycling box.

As expected, almost every stand displayed a bowl of sweets. What is the objective of giving away sweets? To tempt people to come to your stand and talk to you. But if everyone gives away sweets, they are not a differentiator. Boring!

Many exhibitors offered me a branded pen. I tried to refuse, telling them I already have plenty of pens, thank you. But they’d say things like: “Ah, but this pen has a light on it!” (A light? I don’t think I’ve ever needed a pen with a light.) Boring!

I also came away with a range of branded pads and Post-it notes – which might be useful. But boring!

However, I am not likely to use any of the businesses that pressed their promotional products upon me. I’m only going to use a business that sells something that I want, at a price I want to pay. All the usual giveaways are a waste of money.

3 steps to exhibition heaven

Step 1. Be creative to get people to notice you. I did that by wearing my new networking hat. Lots of people said: “Ooh, I like your hat!” which was the starting point for some amazing conversations.

Step 2. Treasure your business cards and leaflets. They cost money to print, so don’t force them on every passer-by. Only give them out to the people who seem genuinely interested in finding out more.

Step 3. Follow up promptly, with the aim of building relationships to establish whether there are opportunities to work together or refer each other.

Here’s the scary robot, just getting warmed up.

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