With in-person conferences coming back, it’s a great time to refresh your networking strategy. If you're a little rusty or looking for inspiration on how to be a prospecting superstar, here are SciLeads’ tried and tested trade secrets for success.
1. Wear a Uniform
Whether you are there as a group or flying solo, wearing some visible company branding is key. Even something simple like a brightly colored t-shirt with the company logo is a great conversation starter. It also lets everyone know who are the colleagues and who are customers so everyone can be easily identified.
Why being branded is important:
- If you don’t have an area at the event, a uniform makes you a mobile booth
- You can sell anywhere as long as you have your uniform on - at lunch, on the walk out of the convention center, even in the bar that evening!
- Without a uniform sometimes it’s confusing for potential customers whether you are just chatting to your colleague and it’s ok to interrupt, or whether you’re already with a customer.
- We meet so many people at these events, wearing the same thing over and over will make it easier to be recognized by people who you’ve met before. Our female staff swear by wearing their hair in the same way at each show because they find more people remember them!
- It’ll help you stand out from the crowd and become a company that more people will remember
2. Incorporate the best booth elements
Booths can be expensive so if you don’t have the budget for a stand, there are still ways to encourage traffic and engagement at the event. Or if money is no object, then maximizing these elements will definitely grab people’s attention.
Elements every booth should have:
- A ‘Booth Captain’ who will take charge of your strategy and make sure everyone is aligned to their objectives each day. They can provide targets and offer motivational strategies for success while ensuring the day goes smoothly.
- Have a video - even a short one will encourage people to stop and watch
- Make it really clear what you do - write it on the wall and/or sum it up in the video so people know from just a glance
- Have a showcase product on display like a large microscope - even if it doesn’t work it will encourage questions
- Make sure everything is pristine - worn posters and crumpled flyers from other shows can be offputting to your audience
- It’s sometimes really difficult to find water/chips/soda at these shows, and the queues are so long at the coffee places, so offering these things at the booth will ensure people stick around longer. Plus a lot of the food stands are cash only so if someone forgets their dollars then they will be very grateful for the free refreshments!
3. Attract traffic
The ‘build it and they will come’ idea doesn’t always work out, so even though your booth might look amazing, you need to make sure you are also encouraging people to stop by. This is particularly important if you are stuck over in the corner of the room with very little foot traffic.
How to encourage the crowd
- Have branded post-its you can stick on relevant posters to invite them to your booth. Even better if you’re telling them to come by the booth to collect a t-shirt that they’ve qualified for!
- Have ‘mini-talks’ or demonstrations throughout the day with interesting experts - once people are standing around others will follow - this is also a great way to get some busy looking PR pictures
- Have a ‘specialist’ at your booth that people can book to speak to - people will come to talk to them rather than a salesperson
- Have a competition or game that ensures people stop by for a while and acts as a great conversation starter
- Rather than ask people outright what area they are interested in - ask them to drop a particular color of jelly bean into a specific jar - it breaks the ice and is less ‘salesy’, but also works as an interactive poll of people’s areas of expertise
- Make sure you send your schedule to your leads, customers, and partners so they can plan to come and see you in advance. Use the SciLeads platform to make your list!
- Have a VIP booth party at the end of each day - you could give out Golden Tickets in advance to your leads, customers, or partners. And remember to take cool pictures when you’ve people gathered
- Make friends with your neighbors and send traffic each other’s way
4. Great Giveaways
There is no doubt that branded items - particularly pens, notebooks, frisbees, bags, and teddy bears - will bring people straight to your booth and then transport your brand across the country, but you want to maximize the ROI of these freebies. Before you let people take anything, get some useful data in return - make sure you scan or sign people up before they can lift any loot.
Getting the best ROI from a freebie:
- Have a highly desirable prize and everyone that enters has to be scanned
- Make your raffle item local - SciLeads is based in Northern Ireland so we always bring a bottle of local whiskey, which people really love as it is unique
- Make a rule that the person has to collect their prize in person - this will make sure you have an audience for the prize-giving ceremony and ensures you aren’t having to pay a fortune in postage
- Don’t have something like an Apple watch that people either already have or won’t want if they are an Android user, make it universal like Amazon vouchers - which can also be emailed if necessary
- Let your targets/customers know you’re doing the raffle before the event to encourage them to stop by - or have a separate raffle for them that is invitation only
- Stuffed toys are remarkably popular because most children demand a gift when their parents are traveling so these are always a big hit!
- And if you do give away teddy bears and toys - you could also have a social media competition where people tag your company in a ‘take Teddy on tour’ competition - the best picture with the bear in a unique location after the event will win a digital voucher. Have a special hashtag so you can like and share the pictures on your news feed and it keeps your company in mind after the event.
5. No Booth Needed
You definitely do not need a booth to make an impact at scientific conferences so here are some tips for anyone going alone or a team without a booth:
- Have a poster - although this applies even if you have a booth! Having an application specialist present the technology in the form of a poster is much more appealing to most scientists than speaking to a salesperson. Our customers who use SciLeads to invite potential clients to their posters get an even better response than those who invite them to their booth
- Buddy up - be a guest star at someone else’s booth for mutual benefit
- Enjoy the networking opportunities - you don’t have to worry about always manning a booth, you have the freedom to enjoy the show (and sit down whenever you want!)
Events are back!
We are excited that so many of the tradeshows and conferences are back to in-person meetups after a hiatus. We have created a list of the events SciLeads will be attending, which you can see here, and you can even arrange to meet us there!
The SciLeads platform offers an incredible amount of data on Tradeshows and conferences, search the platform now to see who has attended events in previous years and who is going to be at the upcoming conferences. Get a demonstration and free trial of the platform now.