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Trade shows are like speed dating
When we think of trade shows, chances are speed dating doesn’t come to mind. After all, the basic idea of speed dating is to get a whole bunch of single people in the same room and create the potential for a match—ideally narrowing down the list to include only those who seem to be a good fit and then taking the next step—an email, phone call or even an actual date.Wait a minute … this sounds exactly like a trade show. You meet a variety of people, spend some time chatting … trying to establish a connection and make future plans to connect with those you determine are a good fit for your business. And if the speed dating studies are correct, it takes just seconds for a potential match to click. If this concept has you intrigued and wanting to find out more, keep reading.

Trade show speed dating pointers
If thinking of a trade show as speed dating makes sense to you, it probably doesn’t hurt to brush up on some skills to help you succeed at trade show “speed dating.” Here are some pointers.

  • Do your research: Just as you likely don’t want to commit to a date without knowing some basics about your potential partner, you don’t want to go into trade show speed dating blind, either. Do your research—find out who will be attending the trade show and decide whom you’d like to bump into. Craft a pre-trade show introduction in the form of an email or letter and ask for the opportunity to meet. Make an added impression by mailing a magnet calendar imprinted with your company logo and contact information—and don’t forget to highlight the upcoming trade show date.
  • Dress to impress: You wouldn’t show up to a first date without paying attention to your personal appearance—the same holds true when trade show speed dating. After all, you only get one chance to make a first impression. Find out ahead of time what the trade show atmosphere will be and dress accordingly. Carry yourself in a professional manner and be sure to brush up on your interviewing skills. After all, the point of trade show speed dating is to make a connection with those who are a good fit for your business. And leave those you meet with a lasting impression. Logo’d media charging stations or mint cards make nice, easy-to-carry giveaways.
  • Don’t make snap judgments: Dismissing a business connection before fully understanding the potential for a relationship is no different than dismissing a potential love match because you don’t like the sound of his or her laugh. The bottom line—snap judgments equal missed opportunities. Even those you may not see yourself working with now may be candidates for a beautiful business relationship in the future, whether on a different project, with a different company or under some other circumstance. Leave all potential clients with something tangible they can reference to recall your interaction. For instance, give them a logo’d USB drive or business card magnet clip that can hold important information about your company and its offerings and your contact information. Even if your product or service is not for them, they may pass your information along to someone else.
  • Court your clients:  When you think you’ve found a match … make sure you treat them well. Send patrons on their way with something to remember you by. A logo-imprinted terra coffee mug and an invite to chat further over some java can be a great way to get your foot in the door. Don’t forget to include a business card and a handwritten note inside the mug and follow up with a phone call after the show.

Remember, there are plenty of fish in the sea of trade show clients. We hope these tips on trade show speed dating will help you net all the right ones.

DYE, COLUMNBy LEE. “Speed Dating? Watch Your Mouth.” ABC News. ABC News Network, 19 May 2013. Web. 11 July 2013.

Nally, Nancy. “Trade Shows: Speed Dating For Businesses — Tech News and Analysis.” GigaOM. N.p., 8 Jan. 2010. Web. 11 July 2013.

Vining, Sarah. “10 Ways to Come Back With Business From a Trade Show – Charmed by Hospitality Marketing | Cvent Hospitality.” 10 Ways to Come Back With Business From a Trade Show – Charmed by Hospitality Marketing | Cvent Hospitality. N.p., 25 Jan. 2013. Web. 11 July 2013.

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