Networking is an art. Especially today when everyone is “connected” in some way or another online. However, while there are now more channels to meet new people than ever before, trade shows continue to be a dominant place to form robust relationships with vendors, distributors, suppliers and industry leaders. This rings especially true for international shows such as Cosmoprof Worldwide.
What’s the first thing that pops into your mind when you think about networking? Is it shaking hands and giving out business cards? While that’s what most people tend to visualize, networking today is more about building relationships via referrals, partnerships, finding vendors, asking for advice and exchanging ideas. Building a strong network of trustworthy and valuable mentors and partners takes time and careful strategy.
In the business-to-business (B2B) world, point of contact purchases are uncommon. One reason for this is because expensive purchases tend to have a longer sales cycle. Convincing people to risk an expensive partnership requires trust and rapport. This is why every exhibitor at a show should develop a networking plan. It keeps marketing and sales focused.
With that said, here are 5 tips for creating a networking plan for Cosmoprof Worldwide.
1. Write down OKRs
OKRs stand for Objectives and Key Results. It’s one method for measuring whether a campaign is successful or not. The objective is the overall goal of the campaign or project. The key results are specific deliverables needed to achieve that goal. See the table below for an example.
Notice the results include specific numbers and dates and how they support the overarching goal. This not only helps the team stay focused but makes reporting results to execs easier once the show is over.
Ranking leads is an effective way to efficiently manage the time in the expo hall. A booth full of people is only good if it is full of your target audience. Ranking enables booth staff to spend time networking with the prospects who will help move the business forward.
The ranking system itself differs according to the company’s goal. For example, an A lead may be a prospect looking to buy within the next 3 months. A B lead may be looking to buy within the next 6-12 months. A C lead is not looking to buy anytime soon but is interested in the product offerings.
2. Create a timeline
A simple way to develop a marketing campaign is to break down the show into a pre-, at-, and post-show timeframe. The activities in each timeframe will differ but all serve the purpose of supporting the networking plan for Cosmoprof Worldwide.
Pre-show activities include creating digital marketing content like press releases, ads, email blasts, social media posts, and blogs. The goal in this phase is to tell Cosmo attendees who you are and that you’ll be at the show. It also includes booth staff training.
At-show tactics include being approachable and social, listening, and being helpful. For example, being a good networker on the show floor could mean referring an attendee to someone you know that can help them (referrals often go both ways). It’s during this phase of the program that everyone associates networking with handshakes and business cards.
Post-show follow up may be the most vital part of networking for the show. After the buzz and hype is settled, be sure to promptly contact all A and B leads to the sales team. The C leads can be dropped in a general nurture email campaign. Time is against sales in this regard, slow follow-ups mean lost revenue.
3. Research your target audience
Most shows provide prospectus reports on their website for exhibitors to reference. Cosmoprof is no exception. Researching your target audience is even more vital for international shows where you’ll meet people from different countries with different customs. Additionally, ranking leads will make little sense without a clear customer profile.
A few things to take into consideration are demographics like age, height, gender, profession, income, position, etc. This information also provides directions or promotional items should you incorporate that booth strategy.
4. Produce valuable content
Producing valuable content is necessary for pre- and post-show digital campaigns. Sending prospects met at the show useful, unique and ultra-specific content keeps your name top of mind, builds trust, and sets your company up as an authority in the industry.
The most valuable content includes
- Original research
- Videos in the form of free webinars
- SEO blogs that are easy to find and helpful to readers searching for answers
Remember networking is also about exchanging ideas. Companies use content marketing to inform prospects about product and service offerings. It’s a powerful way to show what makes your business unique and different in the industry.
5. Use your current network in U.S. before going overseas
Don’t start from scratch! Contact other U.S. and Canadian companies that are exhibiting at Cosmoprof Worldwide. Make use of any influencers you know by asking them to build hype for your participation at the show.
Furthermore, understand the tremendous benefits of partnering with an internationally award-winning U.S.-based exhibit house that does business in the EU. The Trade Group is well-equipped to support your needs at Cosmoprof, including taking those 2 am calls from show vendors the day before the show.
You can read about OSPI, one of our international partners, about the need for an extensive network to handle important aspects of your exhibit experience overseas. Get the brochure here.
Need help with your networking plan for Cosmoprof Worldwide? Contact one of our design and strategy experts below.
The Trade Group is a full-service trade show and event marketing company. We will work with you to create an exhibit or an event that brings in leads and helps you achieve your business goals. Contact us here or give us a call at 972-734-8585.