Eight ways to make the most of exhibitions

I’ve just come back from the NEC – this week it was Subcon, a couple of months ago, Multimodal 2012. What brilliant shows they were. As a visitor, here are my top tips for making the most of visiting an exhibition:

For visitors…

  1. Before you go, make a list of the people you want to see
  2. For all us women, wear comfy shoes.
  3. Take plenty of business cards
  4. Follow up the people you met with an email and a phone call
  5. Make sure you keep hydrated
  6. Arrange to have 1-2-1’s in the central coffee point – so other people can see you
  7. Take photographs of stands that particularly grab your attention
  8. As a visitor, don’t try to sell to the exhibitors – they’ve paid more than the £8 parking to do that
  9. Preregister – it stops all that faffing about at the reception desk

For exhibitors…

  1. Before you go, make sure you email/send invites to all your customers
  2. Create a new exhibition ‘signature’ to go on your emails
  3. Have something eye catching or tactile on your stand – I was taken by the small putting courses; the full sized steel robot; the spring ‘stress ball’ giveaways and various engaging smiles
  4. Ensure your team are trained in what to do on a stand. Sadly, I saw many exhibitors just talking to their colleagues, scowling or just texting.
  5. Engage with people who stop on your stand – they might well be customers 6 months down the line
  6. Don’t have huge hard boiled sweets or, worse still, chewy ones on your stand… it hampers holding a conversation you can understand.
  7. Do a Twitter search to see who’s talking about the exhibition before/during and after the show. I got invited onto a stand because I’d mentioned #subcon
  8. Make sure giveaways have your phone number/website on them – I picked up 4 which either had nothing, or only had a logo…
  9. Scan the name of every visitor to your stand – even press officers might be a good connection 😉
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