As an entrepreneur you’re constantly seeking sales leads and ways to create awareness of your company. One of the methods many small business owners find useful is to attend trade fairs sponsored by organizations that support minority and women-owned businesses. These trade fairs offer the opportunity for companies that have programs for buying products and services from minority and women-owned businesses with those individuals that offer the products and services you!Your goal for attending a trade fair is to establish and maintain relationships. Deals are rarely made and sealed at a trade show. Instead, trade fairs serve as a place to “meet and greet.”
Once you’ve learned of a trade fair opportunity, there are a few things you can do to before the event to determine if you should attend and to make it a worthwhile endeavor for you.Find out who is most likely to attend a trade fair before you decide to go. Will members of your target audience be there? Plan to spend a morning through lunch or lunch through the afternoon at the fair. Don’t plan to spend all day your time is valuable. Choose one to four companies or organizations you want to target. Make sure these companies are a fit for you and you for them. Select a back up list of several companies should you not be able to make contact with your primary targets.
Trade Fair Activities
You’ve done your homework, now it’s time to talk with exhibitors. Here are a few tips to make your encounter a success.Walk through and quickly survey the entire trade area (if possible) when you first arrive. Then head for the booths of the companies you’ve targeted. If time permits, go back to other exhibits you noticed during your survey. Be confident when talking with company representatives. Know the value your product or service can offer the targeted company. Know your competitive advantage. If you meet resistance, such as you perceive that the person representing a company doesn’t want to be at the event, politely ask for the name and phone number of the minority business program buyer. Follow up with that person after the event. Realize that if a company has an active minority or woman-owned business program, it simply gets you in the door. You still have to sell!
Follow Up Is Key
You’ve attended a trade fair and made some valuable contacts, now what? Here are some tips to get the absolute most you can from your trade fair experience.Make notes, recap what you learned. Were there exhibits that caught your eye? How can you incorporate some of the good ideas you noticed into your business? Did you learn something that might cause you to change something about your product offering? Did you learn something new about a competitor? Develop an action plan for follow up with the contacts you made at the event. Conduct follow up activities to the point that you’ve either secured business or reached a point where you know it won’t work at least right now with a company. Make contact with companies that you might not have visited during the event but that appear to be a good fit for you.