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Turn Trade Show Contacts into Contracts

By Caterina Rando, MA, MCC

Trade shows are a great way to introduce new potential clients to your company and to reconnect with your current clients, educating them to the many valuable products and services you have available.

Also, trade shows allow an informal setting for people that have been thinking about working with your firm to get their questions answered and have an impromptu discussion about potential solutions to their challenges.

While trade shows can be a winning strategy to attract new clients, they can also be a huge waste of time, energy and resources if all that happens is you build a eye-catching display and say “hi” to people as they walk by. Do not waste this great opportunity to build your business. When formulating your trade show strategy for success, use the following tips to make your connections count.

Look Like a Million Bucks
You want to always look your best when working a trade show. Looking professional makes people more receptive to speaking with you. Make sure you look the part of the successful firm representative. Press your suit, get a haircut and make sure your shoes are comfortable and polished. Where light colors—dark blue and black are more intimidating. It’s best to go with the lighter colors in your closet for this event.

Get Out In Front
Put together a great display to really catch the attention of trade show attendees. Be sure to position the display tables in a way that allows you to easily enter into the pedestrian isle. Do not put a table across the front of your booth, since this puts a barrier between you and passersby. Keep your booth neat and uncluttered. Put out only a few materials at a time.

Show Your Smile
Show your teeth to everyone and make eye contact as people come near your booth. This conveys warmth and makes it easy for people to approach you. Go out of your way to be friendly, energetic, approachable, and connect with all the trade show attendees.

Success Starts with a Great Opening
Rehearse your opening statement. Say something that gets people to stop in their tracks and spend some time at your booth. Ask a question. For example a professional organizer might say, “Please tell me your biggest organizing challenge—I am sharing some quick tips.” This way you are giving them something of value right away and not selling them right away.

Offer a Show Special
Offering a show special, prominently displaying information about it, can entice people to your booth. Show specials also create a sense of urgency to get people to make a buying decision right away. You can also introduce a new product or service and have a special for attendees who take advantage of this new offering. You want to close lots of business at the show.

Gather the Important Info
Have a drawing, and make it easy for people to enter the drawing by dropping their card into a bowl. This creates excitement and ensures people will stop at the booth. If people do not have a card, provide a form that people can fill out. Make sure everyone writes down all of their information: name, address, phone, and especially email address. Gathering the contact information of attendees is one of the primary objectives of participating in trade shows.

People Love Giveaways
If all of your materials look like sales materials, they will probably end up in the trash before the tradeshow attendees leave the convention hall. Give everyone coupons and innovative premiums with your logo. These keep your name in front of someone long after the trade show has passed. Make sure to bring plenty of whatever advertising specialty you choose: Post-It Notes®, calculators and notebooks are all good choices. You do not want to run out of goodies.

Your Fortune Is in the Follow Up
Within two days after the tradeshow send out a thank you email or letter with an additional special offer. Within two days is key. Otherwise they will not even remember you. If you wait two weeks or two months the tradeshow attendees will not even remember meeting and speaking with you.

Trade shows can take a lot of time and energy. When done well they can attract many new clients and expand the services used by current clients. Follow the ideas above and get the most out of your next trade show adventure.


Caterina Rando, MA, MCC shows entrepreneurs how to succeed with ease. She is a professional speaker, best-selling author, business success coach and creator of the Business Breakthrough telecourse programs.

To gain many more business building ideas via podcasts, articles and other resources visit her website http://www.attractclientswithease.com. Caterina can be reached at 415 668-4535, by email at cat@attractclientswithease.com.