2020 has been unplanned, unpredictable, and unkind to a lot of people. So many things that we are used to or that we typically enjoy in this season have been canceled or postponed indefinitely due to the current public health crisis. Unfortunately, tradeshows are right along with them.
Since most tradeshows involve being in a large room with thousands of people, most figured it would only be a matter of time before they were canceled for this year. However, these cancelations aren’t just putting distance between you and other people. They’re putting distance between you and potential business.
How can you still make essential business contacts and generate leads without tradeshows? Many sales professionals and Agents like you are asking the same question right now. So, we compiled five tips to help you think of creative ways to make these connections from a distance.
TIP ONE: Attend Virtual Conferences
Some of your favorite annual shows may be moving online this year. The experience will certainly be different, but a virtual event is still a platform to help you make connections. Plus, it’s far more cost-effective for attendees and exhibitors. Virtual events also give you a greater return on your investment; because session materials and keynote speeches are usually made available to you after the event concludes, for a period of weeks, months, or even until the next event.
Some of the events we regularly attend that have gone virtual this year include:
TIP TWO: Reach Out to Contacts from Previous Events
Tradeshows and conferences are held around the same time each year for a reason. The organizer hopes that you will enjoy your experience so much the first time, that you’ll want to come back again and again. The same goes for everyone who has attended past events. So, if you met someone at a show or conference last year, try reaching out to them this year. Chances are they will be missing the event too, and that gives you a jump-off point for conversation.
TIP THREE: Use Social Media to Connect
Social media is more than a way to stay in touch with friends from high school or keep an eye on trending topics. It’s also a great tool for making connections. In fact, you can connect with people who were planning to attend tradeshows or conferences with a simple search! Search the hashtag for the event on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, and you’ll be able to read conversations surrounding that event and introduce yourself with your own comment or post. You can also use social media to find out what the people who attend these events are really looking for. For example, you could post a question on Twitter, such as, “What do you look for in a merchant services provider” or “Do you pay too much for payment processing?” and see how people respond. Don’t forget to use the hashtag for the event, and you may just discover a potential lead.
TIP FOUR: Send Out Promotional Items or Freebies
It’s no secret – everyone loves free stuff. Plus, everyone loves getting mail that’s not a bill. So, why not give the people what they want? If you’ve had a productive conversation with someone on social media, personally offer to send them one of the promotional items you have stored up for attending tradeshows. It may cost you a few dollars in shipping but could be well worth it if the lead converts. This is a great way to both work through your inventory and make meaningful connections.
TIP FIVE: Consider Hosting Your Own Virtual Event
If your favorite tradeshow has canceled and does not plan to go virtual this year, consider hosting a virtual event yourself! You don’t have to spend a ton of time and money on a full-length conference. Your event could be something as simple as a Zoom meeting, where people can share the materials they had planned to display in their tradeshow booth. Or, you can host a panel discussion on the state of the industry featuring a few prominent figures. Making an extra effort to keep the conversation going despite the current circumstances will help you gain leads and contacts. Plus, it will be simple to promote because you already have an audience to attract. Remember, the event hashtag is a great tool for attracting your audience. And who knows? If everything goes well, events like these could become something you present on a regular basis!
The less-than-ideal circumstances this year have forced us to think about business, travel, and our own health in ways that many of us hadn’t before. We can let it deplete our resources and defeat us, or we can choose to rise to the challenge and find ways to emerge victorious! Let’s keep working together to find creative ways to stay in touch and keep business moving forward.
For more helpful resources, check out these blog posts: