Make new and lasting business connections with these essential trade show networking tips.
Whether you want to learn about emerging technologies or are looking to meet interesting new suppliers, trade shows like IBC2023 offer unrivalled opportunities to grow your network. Yet such shows can also be overwhelming, especially one as vast and as diverse as IBC where 13 halls at the RAI Amsterdam host over 1,000 exhibitors and attract over 40,000+ visitors from over 170 countries.
The question is: how do you make the most of going to IBC? What are the secrets to successful trade show networking? These suggestions and tips might just help.
1. Be clear on your objectives
While it’s great to wander around a trade event such as IBC (there’s a lot to see), consider what you want to achieve from a show visit. Maybe it’s competitor research or learning more about emerging technologies? Or perhaps you’d like to meet new suppliers or showcase a new product?
By defining your business objectives at the start, you can maximise your ROI.
2. Have a (rough) plan of action
Amazingly, many people still go to trade shows without a plan of what they’re going to do when they get there. They simply turn up, wander around the show floor, randomly chat to a few exhibitors and generally fail to make the most of their time. Here are some useful resources to get you started.
- Official show news (IBC Daily)
- Interviews, insight and analysis (IBC365)
- IBC2023 Exhibitor List & floorplan
- IBC2023 Content Agenda
- Register for IBC2023
What you should do instead is draw up a hit-list. Trade shows and conferences are easier to navigate when you know where you want to go and who you want to see. It gives your visit value when you can have meetings with companies that align with your business goals.
In an ideal world, book meetings before you go. Companies in your industry will usually announce that they will be attending shows well in advance and are open to meetings. While it’s tempting to book appointments with people or businesses you already know, check the show exhibitor list online for new opportunities. For example, you’ll find the IBC2023 Show Planner here.
Do plan your route. Shows like IBC are vast and so plotting your day (and your route) between appointments will ensure that you make the most of your time.
“This is vital if you are not going to lose a significant proportion of your time walking between halls,” says Jeremy Bancroft, Director at Media Asset Capital. “It can take over 15 minutes to get from one end of the [IBC] exhibition to the other, and once you have done that a few times, you have spent nearly an hour in transit and your feet will be starting to hurt (comfortable shoes are a must!).”
3. Create your own luck
There’s a quote that says: good luck is when opportunity meets preparation, while bad luck is when a lack of preparation meets reality. So, whenever you attend a trade show, don’t go into a meeting unprepared. It’s important to do your research. Know the names of the people you’ll be meeting, so you can make a good first impression.
Do make the first move. For stands where you haven’t made an appointment, don’t lurk and wait to be approached by someone. Exhibitors go to shows like IBC2023 to meet new people and potential customers for their services or products. So, don’t be shy. Step up and start a conversation. You never know where it might lead.
At the same time, don’t oversell yourself. The secret to good networking is that success can be measured by starting a relationship or acquiring a lead, not necessarily making a sale. Once you’ve made a new connection, try to encourage a follow-up. Leave behind a business card (bring lots), a brochure, a press pack or even a product sample. What will make you stand out? What will make you memorable?
4. Make the most of meetings
Of course, some meetings just won’t work out. While meeting new people is what trade shows are all about, you need to keep your objectives firmly in mind. If a conversation you’ve started doesn’t align with your business objectives, then politely wrap up and leave. That way you don’t waste your time or that of the exhibitor. Similarly, if an exhibitor you’re talking to looks distracted, they might not be interested in your business. Shut the conversation down and move on.
Look out for other networking opportunities at the shows you visit. These might include: mixers, panels, discussions, networking events (like breakfasts and lunches) and after-show parties.
IBC2023 has a Delegate Pass that gives you access to the 2-day Conference programme including keynote sessions and panel discussions, plus access to Technical Papers, an exclusive trends report and Conference opening drinks.
The IBC2023 Premium Pass, meanwhile, affords you all the perks of the Delegate Pass with extra access to the exclusive IBC Premium Lounge, invites to exclusive networking breakfasts and content-led roundtable discussions, plus networking drinks and Meeting Room area access.
All this enables you to maximise your relationship building time in more casual environments. After all, not all deals are done on the show floor.
And when the show is over, don’t let your networking momentum fade. Follow up with those companies that you connected with and develop them from connections into leads and, hopefully, into customers or suppliers.
5. Improve your business networking
Finally, here’s a smart tip from behavioral investigator Vanessa Van Edwards: “Your last impression is just as important as your first impression.” Again, with almost 1,000 exhibitors at IBC2023, time can be precious. So, the way you leave a conversation at a show is just as important as how you start one.
“The art of the lasting impression,” says Edwards, “is all about giving someone clear exit cues. Especially if you have someone who wants to talk and talk and talk, subtlety is not going to work for you. After many years of conference-going and many failed exit attempts, I have learned the direct approach is always respectful and appreciated. I created this Exit Formula: Genuine Compliment + Follow-up Item + Handshake = Lasting Impression.”
Are you ready to grow your network and make new connections at IBC2023? Register for your ticket today.