I took part in my first business Exhibition today, not as an attendee but actually exhibiting. It was disappointingly slow and not a lot of people coming through but it was my first experience of this type of event, so it was useful from that viewpoint. I also met up with a few familiar faces and had time to talk to other exhibitors.
I was watching some of them and wondering how their experience might differ from mine. In the same way that you can't just sit in your office waiting for the phone to ring, you can't just sit at a stand and not interact with the people walking past. Some people appeared to be doing their best to totally ignore anyone that showed an interest in what they had to offer. Given the lack of visitors you would have thought they would have been eager to engage them in conversation.
I'd booked up several months ago. I'd spent all week preparing. I'd taken the trouble to get out of bed early, set up my tables, laid out all my information and 'free stuff', so what purpose is there in sitting behind the stand, doing your best to ignore the people walking past, not engaging people in even the merest snippet of conversation. Even just a smile and making eye contact can make a difference and draw someone to take a closer look.
I noticed one person on the stand opposite just make a polite comment to two people walking past their stand which made them pause, take another look and then have a brief conversation before walking away with some literature. Other people had a variety of different strategies - offering a freebie or discount, literature to pick up, a free quiz, goodies to take away. All ideas for the next event but what is clear and what won't work ... is just sitting there.
The real work starts now - following up with the new contacts, adding them to my newsletter and keeping in touch at regular intervals. Don't make the mistake of going to an event and then not bother to get in touch or follow-up with people afterwards. It doesn't take a lot, just a quick email - something is definitely better than nothing ... and don't leave it too long.
So, even though it was a long, slow day - I got at least 30 new contacts, most of those were interested in my newsletter and I've got some good follow-up from the workshop I ran too.
I think the bowl of sweets helped! :)