Exhibitions and trade show can be a valuable asset to the growth of your business, giving you an opportunity to increase your brand exposure, meeting prospective new clients and even making direct sales.

While they aren’t right for every business, they’re a good way to get your name out there.

However, to get the most out of them, you need to ensure that you’re prepared, so we’ve put together this guide to exhibiting for the first time.

Network Early

If you’re smart about it, you should start networking days before the event has even officially begun.

Try and find out who else will be attending the exhibition (you can usually find this online) and try to identify those that might be interested in your business.

While you obviously don’t want to spam anyone, it doesn’t hurt to send a friendly email to introduce yourself and maybe set up a chat for the day itself.

You can learn more about how best to network when you’re actually at the event in this post from Business Advice.

Be Prepared

You’ll also want to make sure that you and the staff that you’ll be taking to the show are all as prepared as possible before you arrive.

This means making sure that everyone is clued up on any questions that they may be asked on the day and maybe even running through some role-play scenarios before the big day itself.

As well as preparing mentally though, be sure to run through the practical stuff too such as making sure you have enough business cards and brochures and bringing enough people so that you can all take regular breaks. You’ll be surprised how tiring a trade show can be!

Here’s a handy checklist of some of the main things you should be thinking of taking to your next trade show.

Giveaways

It’s a bit of a trade show cliché, but you’ll want to take something along to give out to people from your stand.

Ideally, it’ll be something closely related to your industry, but could be literally anything, whether it be mugs, pens, keyrings, bags or anything you can think of!

According to Stitch Embroidery: “Promotional gifts are a great idea for trade shows because not only do people just love free stuff, the more people that are walking around the venue with your stuff, the more word will spread!”

Put Yourself Out There

To really get the most out of the event, it’s important that you’re proactive and put yourself out there.

This means being on the front foot and approaching people as they walk past your stand, rather than waiting for them to approach you.

An even better way to get your name around the exhibition is by putting yourself forward as a speaker, which will help to showcase your expertise.

Just make sure not to use this platform as a selling tool though, as attendees will see right through it.

Follow Up

Just as networking begins before the event, it should continue after it as well. Have a system in place to note down the contact details of any potential leads that you meet at the event and be sure to follow up with them after it has finished.

But make sure not to just send out generic emails to each person. Instead, remember what you discussed and tailor your message to each to try and address their concerns and how your business may be able to help.