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Building relationships at trade shows begins far before–and after– your potential customers arrive at your booth space. Inviting out the right audience, asking the right questions and following up are some of the best steps a brand can take to create lasting connections.

While the ultimate end goal of a trade show appearance is to generate sales, sales are not the only criteria a brand team should be focused on during their time at a trade show or conference. All of the marketing, booth design and strategizing that goes into an event is organized to create an overall brand experience that drives traffic, which drives interaction, which drives connections and relationship building which will eventually lead to your sales spike. It may happen at the event, it may happen a few months down the road. But the goal remains the same: trade shows provide your business with an immensely dense target audience to establish relationships with. The best way to do this at a trade show is bringing out the right potential customers, and making genuine and authentic partnerships with them at your trade show exhibit.

From the clientele, to the subjects you bring up, to the overall comfort and time spent in the booth, some potential buyers require a long haul and a truly great host to make a sale. Showing each booth visitor the best your brand has to offer in business, as well as their immediate experience at the trade show, is crucial to developing a trusted bond and notion of safety and excellence to match your expertise.

Invite Your Existing Contacts Out
Whether they’ve ended up purchasing goods and services from your brand in the past or not, inviting out your existing rolodex of contacts can still lead to future sales. Any positive interaction they can have with your brand is a relationship builder, and word of mouth they bring back from the trade show can help your brand’s reach. Even if they don’t end up doing any business with your brand at all, if they appreciate and positively regard what your brand is doing, they may be likely to recommend you to others.

Ask Questions
Asking a current or potential customer questions to get to know them, their business, and needs better can be equally beneficial to asking feedback on your own product and services being presented in the booth space. Understanding what the market wants can lead to better product development in the future, and can be directly applied alongside actual product feedback. Knowing your team is truly interested in what the customer has to say– whether they plan to buy at present time or not– instills a sense of confidence and camaraderie between your brand and a potential client.

Follow Up
What you do with the information you do receive from potential customers and clients at a trade show exhibition determines whether the connection will last. Following up is essential to reminding these connections of the great time you had, the products that are perfect for them, and how your contact can help their business over the life of the relationship. Check in with those you shared time with on the trade show floor, you never know what lucrative direction a simple “hello” can point you in.

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