Face-to-face marketing is all about creating and maintaining relationships. In order to succeed on the expo floor, you’ll have to be skilled at developing relationships with other human beings. Many companies leave exhibitions feeling unhappy with their networking results. With hundreds of exhibitors on the floor, it’s difficult to know whether you’ve made a lasting impact on attendees. Will they even remember your booth?

It’s important to realize that long-lasting customer relationships take more than a smile, a quick pitch, and a jotting down of contact information. These trade show relationships should be handled with care and deliberate intention, making your prospects feel seen, appreciated, and understood.

Treat Attendees Like Human Beings

Your booth staff should have a specific “script”, or pitch, that allows them to quickly describe your company to attendees. These pitches and talking points enable your staff to use their time more efficiently, but your staff should never become overly robotic or stick to the script longer than necessary. Whenever the opportunity arises, your staffers should stray from the talking points and interact with the attendee in a genuine way.

Each interaction will most likely begin similarly, but they should end uniquely, depending on the attendee’s specific needs. Rather than perpetually bombarding attendees with buzzwords and catch phrases, your staff should shift gears and ask open-ended questions. By engaging the attendee in regular conversation, a skilled brand ambassador can screen prospects for quality and determine whether your company is a good fit for them.

Your staff should remain present with visitors, maintaining focus and avoiding distraction or disinterest. Once your staff gives the pitch and builds rapport, they can more easily lead the interaction toward your company’s end goal and record the prospect’s information.

Be Memorable

It’s easy to feel like your booth is the center of the trade show universe — but the truth is, it isn’t. Attendees walk past hundreds of exhibit booths, so it’s vital to find ways to be memorable. If not, your company will be lost in a sea of mediocre, unimaginative trade show exhibits.

One great way to be remembered is to show up to the exhibition early. This will allow you to create a few relationships prior to all the chaos. The people you meet at the beginning of the show will surely remember you, as your greeting was less hectic and will contain unique level of empathy. By keeping in touch with these “first relationships” throughout the show, you’re likely to remain fresh in their minds once the show is complete.

It’s crucial that your booth is unique to your company and makes great use of the space you’ve been allotted. Prior to the event, you should have a vivid grasp of your booth dimensions and the space you’ve been provided. Along with dimensions, be mindful of any sound or lighting regulations. Take advantage of every inch of your exhibit space and create unique ways for attendees to interact and have fun in it.

Never Abuse The Follow-Up

So the trade show is over and your database is overflowing with high quality prospects. Even though these relationships may feel set in stone, that isn’t the case. Not only can these relationships fade away, they can be tarnished if the prospect feels you’ve abused their contact information in any way, shape, or form.

During the follow-up process, be deliberate, specific, and never flood your prospects’ email inbox with unnecessary sales pitches and product information. If you’re contacting a lead, it should be for the purpose of continuing the trade show interaction and solving their specific needs. Make an effort to add value to your prospects’ lives rather than trying to sell them something they’re not interested in. Make your follow-up personal, using phrases like “I thought you might be interested in..” or “You mentioned at the exhibition that you…”

This gesture proves that you value your relationships with customers and view them as more than just their contact information. It allows these prospects to feel seen, understood, and appreciated. By handling the follow-up process with forethought, you’re more likely to develop loyal customers, valuable contacts, and credible business referrals for the future.