I consider myself very fortunate. I have recently returned from GLOBE 2016, North America’s largest and longest-running conference and exposition dedicated to business innovation for the planet.
This year the show had quite a lot of buzz. I would suspect it had something to do with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivering the keynote address.
The Prime Minister attended to open the GLOBE 2016 Leadership Summit and Innovation Expo and hold a First Ministers meeting on climate policy with all of the provincial and territorial premiers.
It may also have had something to do with 31 Canadian Trade Commissioners and multiple international delegations looking to witness the emerging innovative clean technologies that are ready to be commercialized internationally.
Aside from the buzz, I am a strong advocate of the value of targeted trade shows in accelerating your global market expansion goals.
A company can really increase its visibility in industry circles, and where else can a company meet a multitude of targeted contacts under one roof?
There is also the opportunity to gain competitive intelligence and, as in my case, begin a new position with a Canadian clean tech start-up. For me it was a 3-day total immersion training session.
So, what are the lessons learned? Because there are always lessons to be learned.
1. Your existing network is a major asset
When planning your participation in key trade shows and events, tap into your international trade network. They are your family.
Our company was very fortunate to register early enough to claim a spot under the Ontario pavilion. Exhibiting under a provincial banner provides a cost-effective, turn-key solution for showing off your technologies in the market.
It also offers an opportunity to capitalize on the co-marketing of your product/service by the provincial government.
2. Make sure others can easily find out who you are
Before you go, complete your profile. It may seem like a very simple step but it’s often overlooked.
Personally, I have tried to look up potential partners on the exhibitor listings and many company profiles are incomplete at best. This is your opportunity to spread the word prior to showing up on the exhibition floor.
We were fortunate that our company was chosen as one of the VIP booths for both press and high level officials. We were found and selected by show organizers based our online company profile.
3. No swag, no problem
Skip the swag. Being at a sustainability event and realizing that everyone must do their part to reduce their carbon footprint, we did not distribute any swag, not even a brochure.
In the clean tech space where our company conducts business, we were quite comfortable asking for a business card and offering to send a soft copy of any literature individuals were asking for.
This initiative fits with our business vision and visitors seemed to welcome the low carbon approach.
4. Make every second count
To quote Yogi Berra, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over”. Opportunities are abound to make contacts and start establishing relationships.
Sometimes, those contacts are not made in the exhibition hall; they’re made outside of show hours at a reception, in line for your favourite coffee, or, in my case, on the plane flying back to Toronto. You just never know who you may meet. Hence the importance of always being engaged.
Perhaps it was serendipitous, but I happened to sit beside one of our company’s supporters and investors.
This conversation affirmed that the long days on our feet that my colleagues and I had endured, all of the handshaking and follow ups to come were all worth it.
So, the next time you’re contemplating taking part in a targeted trade show, embrace the opportunity, put your best foot forward and weave your own story of lessons learned.
What valuable tricks and tips have you learned from attending trade shows?