How many times have you signed up for a tradeshow in hopes of collecting hundreds or thousands of emails? Probably 100% of the time. Unfortunately most tradeshows don't release emails, but they do release names of participants and their titles.
You might be thinking, well how does that list help me without the emails? Simple, you take that list to LinkedIn. Afterall, LinkedIn is the "Professional" platform, right? LinkedIn is where we conduct business with one another and connect for future, current and past business.
Tradeshows are an extended arm of LinkedIn, so let's get the handshaking started via LinkedIn. Unfortunately, like all types of marketing, this does take some time and effort, with a splash of creativity. Follow these steps before you head to your next tradeshow, to increase your leads:
- Make sure your LinkedIn profile is current and top notch! After all, you wouldn't show up to the tradeshow in torn jeans, matted hair and a Def Leopard t-shirt, would you? No, you would be dressed for success and would put your best foot forward.
- Start searching for those names that are on the registration that was sent to you. You might run into common names which will produce a ton of results. That's ok. Compare their information to what was provided for you. If you searched John Smith and the registry says, VP of Technology, and your search provides anything but that, e.g., Shift Manager at Firehouse Subs, then he's just not participating in LinkedIn. Shame on him. :)
- Next, craft a compelling message. Don't send the standard, "I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn." - Worst Introduction Ever.
- Tell them why you want to connect. Many folks have a hard time with this, but the tradeshow has made this easy. For example, "Hi John, I see you are attending the Best of The Best tradeshow and I'd like to find a time to chat. I'll (or state your company) will be at booth #777.
- Perhaps, tell him what you'd like to discuss if there is a particular interest with his company or department. But DON'T be salesy. I suggest approaching with this type of message because you don't meet someone at an event and have a boring line, or just start spilling your sales pitch. Conduct yourself in the same manner on LinkedIn as you would if you were in person. This method will set you apart.
- Do watch for messages to be returned and take it from there. Don't just send these out and hope they will just stop by your booth. Be sure that your LinkedIn is connected to an email you monitor daily. It would be a shame for someone to say, "I look forward to meeting you, will you be attending the Straight and Narrow seminar? If so, let's chat afterwards." And you didn't respond. Not only did your lead turn cold, but you look awfully silly for generating the conversation and not responding.
I've done this myself and for clients, and it does open the conversation. We all know that leads are meant to be nutured. Start nuturing your tradeshow leads before you get to the tradeshow, and notice the difference getting Linked can make.