On the Road in Cheesesteak City
3. Don't hang out with people you see all the time. Go out and meet new people. Introduce yourself. Polish your "elevator speech"—a short, compelling, one-minute encapsulation of what you do and why a listener should care (see Target Marketing's May issue for more on this)—and use it to arouse curiosity. Be upbeat.
One thing I always notice is that many companies spend a good deal of money on booths so their employees can lounge around talking to each other. When I (the potentially lucrative prospect) walk up to them, I feel like an intruder. Try to include different people in your show-floor entourage, and introduce them to each other. This way you'll meet many new people.
4. The game of who gathers the most business cards doesn't work. After you talk to people, ask for their cards, and then jot down some things you discussed that you will want to follow up on after the show. Quality is important, not quantity.
5. If you want to talk to the speaker, get the contact information at the show. I've been challenged with this many times. I go to the next session, and assume I can get the speaker's e-mail address afterwards.Then I forget, or I can't get it. Now, when I want to meet someone, I stay planted below the podium until I get the information.
6. Follow-up is key to a successful show. There have been many times I've taken a person's card, and when I got home I couldn't find it. Now I have one pocket in my purse where I put all the cards so I can follow up by calling or writing a note when I return to the office. I always write a separate, personal note to the people I met.
I'm flabbergasted that I still receive so many impersonal form letters from exhibitors that are a waste of paper and postage.