As winter gives way to spring, the circuit of national and regional tradeshows commences. If you're new to the payments industry, you might be about to attend your first show. Whether you are an industry veteran organizing an upcoming acquirers meeting or a newbie who just registered for your first such event, the following refresher on efficient and effective tradeshow strategies could prove useful.
Formulate a plan of attack before you hit the ground. Are you going to the tradeshow mainly to gather information, or are you interested in making new partnerships? Whatever the goal, sketch out what tradeshow events or breakout sessions you don't want to miss. But leave sufficient time in your schedule for exploration and chance encounters, as serendipitous occurrences are sometimes the most fruitful.
Additionally, if you want to meet certain individuals at the show, schedule appointments well in advance, as peoples' schedules tend to fill up quickly. Also keep an open mind, as circumstances at the show can result in unexpected delays or cancellations. If someone can't meet with you at the appointed time, don't take it personally. Be gracious and work with the new parameters, even if it means not being able to meet at this particular event.
Map out the tradeshow environment in advance. If the event is a national show, the hotel complex where it takes place will have a variety of places to meet, eat and schmooze. Coffee shops are pleasant, informal places to conduct one-on-one meetings. Food courts, however, are not ideal for meetings, as they are used to grab a quick bite and get back on the move.
The tradeshow floor can also be a challenge if meetings are your priority. It's loud and bustling, with businesses showcasing their wares and technology demonstrations going on. But finding comfortable and relatively quiet seating outside the tradeshow proper is not difficult. Getting someone off to the side for a few minutes can result in the most productive, efficient meetings possible.
In the rush to pack and get to the airport on time, people sometimes forget that one last item. It might be your toothbrush, which can easily be replaced. Or it might be that little box of business cards in your desk drawer. Don't arrive at a tradeshow without those cards.
In the digital age, with email and LinkedIn at your fingertips, you would think business cards are as obsolete as rotary phones. But they are still important communication tools. Exchanging business cards acts as a conversation ice breaker. Business cards are also handy reminders of whom you met during the show.
After you meet somebody, jot down a note on the back of that person's business card when it's fresh in your mind. Maybe it's a reminder to follow-up with that person after the show. Or it could be a brief memo that records the highlights of the conversation. Those details might come in handy when you reconnect with individuals in the future.
Pack comfortable shoes. You will rack up heavy mileage on your feet. You want to leave the tradeshow with knowledge, positive experiences, and the ability stride, not limp, into all of your promising post-tradeshow meetings.
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