How To Get the Most Out of the 2015 CT Business Expo

Posted by Michael Hurczyn on May 22, 2015

In Lead Generation, Strategy

On June 4th, The Hartford Business Journal will put on the 15th Annual Connecticut Business Expo. Last year, over 4000 attendees representing over 200 industries attended the expo.  It is open to the public, and admission is free, so there aren't many excuses not to attend.  There is a lot of opportunity in attending an event like this, you just need to go in with a plan.  

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Here are some tips and resources on how to get the most out of the 2015 CT Business Expo.  

Students or Job-Seekers

Have you ever applied for a job and never heard back?  Submitting a resume and leaving it up to chance is crazy in this day and age.  Get in front of people and be inquisitive and genuinely curious about their business.  Asking great questions will give people some insight on how your head works.  If you hit it off, you don't need to ask for a job on the spot.  Maybe tell them you could see yourself working with their team and ask if it's ok to connect on LinkedIn to continue the conversation after the show.  It gives the vendor a chance to focus on the show, and you a chance to put your LinkedIn profile in front of them when they get back to the office.  

If your LinkedIn Profile is not up to snuff, here are 10 things you can do before the show to build your personal brand on LinkedIn.

Attendees

Networking.  It's all about networking.  Last year there were over 4000 people that walked through the door. You won't be able to talk to all of them, so you need to have a plan on how to talk to the people you want to talk to.

Exhibitor List

The Expo website publishes a list of exhibitors for the show.  Go through the list ad see if there are any potential prospects or vendors on that list for you.  If there is a business on the list that you think you should meet, try to find someone on LinkedIn that may help you get introduced.  You won't necessarily know who's working the booth, but you may be able to find a connection on LinkedIn and send them a note like this, " Hi, I saw that your company is exhibiting at the CT Business Expo.  I am interested in XYZ and plan on stopping by your booth.  Do you know who will be working the show?"

Depending on the situation, you may want to reach out before the show, but at very least, you will have a list of people with some context and a reason to engage them.  

Who to Invite

The day will be more fun if you have someone to walk around with. Invite a client, a prospect, or a co-worker. Walking around in 2's or 3's is a great way to engage in conversations and not just talk about yourself. Introduce your guests and make it all about them.  

If you have a client on your shoulder, when someone asks you what you do, you can offer them a quick description and then say, "But don't take my word for it, ask my client, [name]."

Learn Something

There appear to be some pretty enlightening workshop sessions lined-up.  Not only is it a chance for you to learn, you may find a good excuse to invite a prospect or client so they could attend a session with you. 

Exhibitors

Although the Expo is a one-day event, you should look at it as a 2-3 month marketing event.  

Before the Show

Let the world know you will be exhibiting and what you are trying to promote at the show.  Also, promote the entire show.  

  • Blog Posts
    • why you chose to exhibit
    • who you are looking to attract
    • who will people meet at the show
  • Social Media
    • Follow promotions from Hartford Business Journal
      • Like, comment, share
    • Invite your followers to come
    • Ask your followers to invite their followers
During the Show

How are you going to get booth visitors, then engage then?

  • Meet your neighbors
    • let them know what you do and ask what they do
      • sometimes people end up in their booths asking for your solution, so they can send them your way
      • sometimes Chatty Cathy's end up in your both, and you can ask if they have met So&So.   
  • Walk the floor
    • Meet new people
    • Ask if they have been to your booth.  
    • Say hi to friends and colleagues and remind them you are there and ask them to send some people over to see you
  • Attend relevant sessions
    • If you are in a particular industry, and someone is speaking on that topic, the people in the audience are your prospects. Listen in.  Listen to the questions from the crowd.  Ask your own questions.  Attract attention.
  • Social Media - Create Buzz
    • Take pictures and post them to your company pages
    • Take video, maybe ask to interview a few people 
After the Show

Follow-up.  Sounds simple, right? I can't tell you how many times I have seen companies invest 10's of 1000's of dollars on a trade show, and then not follow-up properly with the leads.  Calling them and leaving a voicemail once doesn't count either.  

  • Blog Posts
    • Show Recap
    • Workshop Key Takeaways
  • Social Media
    • LinkedIn
      • Connect with people you met and are worthwhile connecting with
    • Twitter
      • Follow connections
      • Thank them for stopping by
        • Who doesn't like to be thanked publically?
  • Email/Phone/Real Life
    • Follow up as promised.  
    • Do it early, like Friday June 5 or Monday, June 8. 
    • Be human
      • How did you like the show
      • I promised to do something for you, do you remember what that was?

Trade Shows, Expos, Conferences, and Conventions are always jam packed with information.  Keep that in mind when speaking to people. Don't overwhelm them, just use it as an opportunity to start a relationship.  

I have worked with Rick Roberge and Carole Mahoney since last fall.  A few years ago they participated in a webinar with a few other really smart people and offered up 63 Must Do Tips to Maximize Your Trade Show Investment.  If you haven't watched the recorded webinar yet, I highly recommend it.  I have worked or attended over 50 conferences in the past few years and learned a bunch of new tips that have definitely helped.  

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If you would like to schedule a call to discuss your show strategy, feel free to book 30 minutes (no charge).  

I invited Rick, and he is bringing friends. If you want to see how we work a show, email me and we'll meet up.

If you don't have a blog, contact me and I can set you up with a blog or you can guest post on Leaps Inbounds or Rick's Blog.

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