Five Ways to Make the Most of a Trade Show or Event

industry events trade shows networking
By Nick Woog

There are hundreds of people in the room, and nobody knows you. Here’s how to make the most of it.

1) Study the speaker and sponsor lists.

Before you attend an industry event, take time to study the sponsors and speakers. These people and companies fall into three possible categories: customers, suppliers, and competitors. Do some legwork on their history, experience, and speaking topics in order to find out who might be a good connection for you, and be ready to talk with them about their interests, goals, and intentions for the event. Also, prior to the event, try connecting with people you don’t know. Ask for a sneak peek of their presentations, and set a time to interview them for your newsletter/blog/vlog. Be genuinely interested, and people are likely to oblige.

2) Make connections for other people.

People usually go to an event with the intention of making connections for themselves, but connecting people with others can yield positive results for you. Try to connect a vendor with a fellow attendee, or connect two attendees with similar problems so they can brainstorm solutions. The time you spend understanding people pays off when you make connections for them; this is a favor that isn’t quickly forgotten and can have substantial long-term value. The universe will repay you tenfold for deeds like these.

3) Take care of yourself.

Industry events, trade shows, and especially sales conferences can be physically demanding and knock you off your self-care routine. Get adequate rest and nourishment so you can focus and make a great impression on everyone you meet. Avoid overindulging in anything that might ruin your other efforts. I play the following game: I set a goal to make a certain number of new connections in a given day. If I make the number, I enjoy a beer while I write down notes and plan my next steps. If I don’t reach my goal, it’s a Sprite while I work on my plan to make the next day’s goal.

4) Be interesting.

Develop three preset questions to ask people before you talk about yourself (nothing about weather or sports). In case someone engages you first, hone your 30-second “commercial” (email me for help) and end it with a question for him or her to answer. People want to talk with people they find interesting, who are well-versed in the ways of the world, and have knowledge that extends beyond the industry event. Be knowledgeable about positive community news and the greater world around you; you’ll be seen as smart, conversational, and fun!

5) Follow up.

Follow up or be forgotten. Within three days of the event, set a phone call with those you find interesting. To gauge how memorable you are, ask people to connect with you on LinkedIn – no better report card exists. Write details on the back of the business cards you collected, and review them with a smile while you enjoy your beverage.

Jeffrey Gitomer says, “It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.” I’ll add, “It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you and believes you can help.”

Be memorable by being prepared, dedicated to the event, clearheaded, and interesting so that, when you make the follow-up, people are happy to take your call. If you’d like a list of my 10 go-to opening questions, send an email to

Nick Woog, Chef of Sales, offers sales and professional development courses from the King of Sales, Jeffrey Gitomer. Contact Nick today at to see if the classroom and virtual offerings are a fit for you.

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