Great Business Ideas: Really Work a Trade Show

Great Ideas for your Small Business: Really Work a Trade Show

Hedy ratner, founder and copresident of the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) in Chicago, really knows how to work a room. A consummate networker, she has devoted years to helping women entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses.

Here are some of her great tips for making the most of a trip to a trade show:

  • Remember why you registered. Ask yourself whether your goal is to find new suppliers or study the competition. “Decide on your goals and be certain to accomplish them before the day ends,” said Ratner.
  • Dress for success and comfort. “First impressions are important, so dress businesslike,” Ratner advises. “You’ll meet potential clients, resource people, and perhaps a banker who may one day consider your loan.”
  • Wear comfortable shoes because you will walk for miles.
  • Plan your schedule and decide which exhibits you want to visit ahead of time.
  • Carry a small tape recorder or notebook to take notes on things you need to follow up on.
  • Note seminars, workshops, and other events that occur during the conference. Be sure to attend the key ones.
  • Bring lots of business cards and brochures. Don’t forget travelers’ checks, credit cards, and personal identification.
  • Be flexible and leave time for spontaneous meetings with important people. “Trust your instincts to lead you to men- tors, models, key contacts, and resources.”
  • Don’t forget to follow up. Sort out the material and cards you collected soon after returning to the office. Record new contacts and remind yourself to take action.
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