You may be exhausted from days of walking, talking, and gathering, but now is not the time to just let all that valuable information and resources lay piled up on your desk or worse left in the suitcase until you feel like sorting it. It is very important to organize and sort all the brochures, catalogs, business cards, how-to sheets, and other items you got while attending the trade show. Here are some key follow-through tips to make utilizing your networking complete:
- Business cards should be sorted. Do this while the people are still fresh in your mind. Put the contact information into your address book especially the e-mail and phone numbers. It’s a good idea to drop a brief e-mail to anyone who you want to stay in touch with or that you need to thank for help during the show. You want that person to remember you. If you can’t remember why you have a business card, just visit the person or company’s website that often will refresh your memory.
- Review all your invoices. Review what you are expecting to be delivered and exactly how much you spent. Did you go over budget? Did you spend exactly what you planned? Would you change any purchases? This is the time to really think about your buying process and use what you’ve learned for future trade shows and future buying.
- File any catalogs, invoices, or information you might need in the future. Be brutal and only file what you really think you’ll need in the future. I usually organize by company name, but you can also file by product line if that’s a better help to your thinking process in finding filed information.
- Finish any projects you may have started in a class or presentation. Again, do this while the techniques, tips, and product information is still fresh in your mind. Display anything you made and take some pride in all you learned. Take some notes about how you’ll use this knowledge in your product or service lines.
- Share what you’ve learned with other professionals who may not have been able to attend the show. Maybe next time you’ll not be able to attend and this network can give you feedback about new products, trends, resources, and more. You can share online too. Blog about your experience. Send out a show report to your creative circle. I always write up a show report. I note trends, motifs, techniques, media, and especially what designers are excited about as they will be showing the consumer what’s happening in crafts.
- The show book is invaluable! Keep this book in a safe place and the next time you need a product, wonder what’s new, or just need to contact the group/organization who put on the show you’ll have all that information at your finger tips.
- And speaking of the association or organization that put on the trade show, drop them a thank you note. There is a lot of hard work and effort that goes into making a trade show run smoothly and the staff can’t be acknowledged enough. This is also a time to ask any questions you might have or give the show organizer’s some feedback. Trade shows only improve if the staff is kept up to date on the needs of the attendees.
- Attending a trade show can help you know your industry better. Attending can help you in many ways from getting your raw product at the best price to knowing exactly what color themes are popular. All of this information can be used to improve your products or service, expand your markets, and bring in more money to your business. Be active. Volunteering is a great way to network. Stay in touch with key people you meet. Make the investment pay off for your business.
By: Maria Nerius