Last month I attended The Meeting Show, one of the important shows in Europe for the MICE sector. The event always takes place in Olympia London and has very similar format to the IMEX (Frankfurt) and IBTM (Barcelona). The show runs for three days but I only attended it on Wednesday, the second day, this year. I attended as trade visitor and not Hosted Buyer, therefore I thought the second day will be the best choice. On first day exhibitors and Hosted Buyers are very busy with pre scheduled appointments so if you want to talk to any of the exhibitors it will be challenging! Third day of the exhibition, on the other hand, is when everyone is tired, exhausted and wants to go home, so I try to avoid having important appointments on the last day of trade shows.
Even though very short this year, I think my visit was very successful and I was happy to see industry friends and colleagues. I saw colleagues from oversees and regardless how often we chat on social media and email, seeing people face-to-face is very important to discuss future projects. It also establishes trust and strengthens relationships.
I usually don’t attend exhibitions as Hosted Buyer, which means I’m very flexible to schedule my own appointments and attend as many education sessions as I want to. But visiting any exhibition, especially international ones, requires some planning. Here I share with you some tips I follow when I attend them.
First of all, I establish contact with exhibitors or other delegates pre-event. Some contacts you might know from existing business so then you can just stop by and catch up on latest news. Others you might know from social media, by having previous conversations, participating in Twitter chats or finding out via event hashtag who’s there to say hello or take a selfie.
Another effective way to establish contact is by being introduced. When you are being introduced, the person making the introduction believes that you both might have a business opportunity so it’s an ice breaker for both parties. Sometimes it works but sometimes it doesn’t, so you should approach it with an open mind.
Social media can increase your networking opportunities. I highly recommend networking with individuals and companies, and when I say network, don’t just “like” of “retweet” on social media, but engage in a conversation, comment on what they are saying and bring value.
Secondly, have you elevator pitch ready. There is no time for small talk and exhibitors have very little time until next appointment so be respectful of exhibitors’ time. In 1 – 2 minutes’ pitch you should say who you are, what’s the nature of your business, what do you want and how you can both work together.
I wish I could stay longer but this time it wasn’t possible. I can’t wait until next time I’ll attend an international show, that will be probably IMEX Frankfurt next year!