Virtual trade shows are helping exhibitors connect with potential customers at a time when in-person meetings and travel have been reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the lack of true face-to-face interactions, no doubt, creates some challenges. To help you prepare for a virtual trade show, we’re providing a few tips prepared by our colleague Meghan Smith, who works on the Business and Industrial Development Marketing Team and recently participated in an aerospace virtual trade show.
Research and Prepare
Like an in-person event, you need to review any available information on exhibitors or attendees before attending a virtual trade show. This gives you time to identify promising customers and request a meeting with them. By asking in advance, you also give yourself time to shift focus if an exhibitor or attendee doesn’t seem interested in meeting.
Use Social Media to Your Advantage
You aren’t guaranteed to get a meeting with every person during or after the show, but you can increase your chances by connecting with attendees on outside platforms, such as LinkedIn. If you aren’t sure how to initiate a conversation, consider sending a message like this: “Sorry, we didn’t get a chance to connect at (insert trade show name), let’s set up a time to talk in the near future.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced everyone to change the way we interact with people on a daily basis and it’s not always easy. Taking a moment to acknowledge the quirks and challenges of a virtual meeting can bring some much needed levity to your conversations, help you make personal connections and stand out to potential cutomers.
Don’t assume people will know what your responsibilities are based on your job title, so take a moment to explain your role. Identifying what type of information is most helpful for you to discuss and offering the other person an opportunity to do the same can make for a more productive conversation. This can be done in advance of a meeting by using the event’s chat feature, if available. By doing this, you also give the other person time to connect you with the right person.
Whether you meet in person or virtually, it’s always polite to send a timely note thanking your new contact for their time. Trade shows can also be a blur, so make sure you follow up within 48 hours while your conversation is still fresh. This is your best chance to send follow up items discussed during your meeting or you can let the other person know that you plan to send additional information soon. An additional benefit of a timely follow up is that the other person may identify you as a reliable contact, especially if you continue to be responsive and provide requested information.
If you are concerned about how to adapt your business to the changing economy or difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the West Virginia Department of Commerce has developed a resource directory for businesses and communities. If you have any questions, contact us today.