B2B Networking Tips for Your Next Event
by Olivia Rose on March 31, 2015
Just last week I attended a B2B mini-expo, co-sponsored by 4 Chambers of Commerce in my area. It was a short, one-day event, and businesses were limited to a 6-foot table top display – nothing on the floor at all! It was an interesting opportunity to witness a ton of B2B networking between local businesses and organizations, and do a little networking myself.
Obviously the businesses that really used their space well had a major advantage. When everyone has the same space and platform for branding, you can really notice the difference between a thrown-together display and a well thought-out, cohesive design. But your display is only a part of your B2B event experience; your responsibility is to make an impression in every way you can. Here are some thoughts based on my experience at the B2B event I attended:
When we first arrived, everyone was standing in front of their tables, armed with business cards – myself included. But it was slow going, since people browsing through weren’t ready to stop and have a chat. Knowing that I’d be lucky to have a handful of interactions at the table, I headed out on foot with a stack of cards and some swag. It was the right call; I was able to pitch to people just like I would’ve if they had stopped by the table, but I could pick and choose the businesses I took the time to talk to. It’s an easy way to get the ball back in your court, and use your time efficiently.
Have the Best Swag
Maybe it’s not something we should be proud of in the event marketing world, but having the best swag and promotional items is still a huge factor. The businesses that brought great promo items and branded freebies were getting all the attention at the expo. Unsurprisingly, bakeries with cookies to give away had this event in the bag. The beauty of a good promotional item is that people start talking about it, asking where it came from, and stopping by themselves to see what the fuss is about. It’s like a calling card that people actually want!
Wait Your Turn – Listen and Talk
This is so critical in a B2B setting. People who stopped by or talked with me all had their own pitch, whether they’re selling something, selling themselves, or just building a mailing list. But of course, no one goes to an event like this just to hear your side – they need their chance to talk, and sell if that’s the goal. I watched people who had the hang of this process in action at the event, and the end result was always two mutually satisfied networkers; you feel like you had your say and the person heard you out, and they feel the same. Good manners and good business!
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