Recently, the core Life Improvement Media team set up shop at a networking expo in the Tampa Bay area. Although it was a small event in terms of vendors, plenty of people swung by. Visitors off the street stopped in as did other avid networkers in the area. For the 4 hours we spent promoting our business, we definitely took in a few sights as well—both positive and negative. Today, we're going to share our thoughts and best practices on how to properly execute a networking table event.
Represent Yourself Properly
How you set up your table matters. A lot of networkers, both experienced and inexperienced, will showcase everything they have to offer on their table.(Not all, but a lot). Walking up to an extremely crowded table is a deterrent. It's a symbol of what's coming if we were to walk up and say hello. Unfortunately, a lot of networkers love to vomit what they do onto their audience. It can be either a visual representation or verbal representation. It's okay to speak passionately, but they don't take the time to learn about their audience, in return.
Offering too little either visually on the table or verbally in conversation is a turn off as well. At that point, it's a simple matter of the customers finding the keywords they are looking for. Then, they're already deciding if what you're saying is something they'll want to need. If not, they're gone. The best advice we can give is to find the balance that engages people without overwhelming them.
Offers, Freebies and Giveaways
Be smart and know your audience. Regardless of audience, people love free stuff. At our most recent event, we had bottled water, starbursts and airheads. Regrettably, we ate about 1/3 of the starburst bag because they were all pink. Pink is the best color of starbursts, hands down. A lot of people asked if they could have a bottle of water or a piece of candy. Therefore, food is a great conversation starter. Since they're already at your table, the door is wide open.
Giveaways such as a free online course or anything free they can benefit from is a way to open the door. We offered a seat in our newest service and had a basket out to collect business cards of interested people. We presented it in such a way where it would give value to anyone who wanted to improve themselves and/or their businesses. In theory, that is what we offer; it's a matter of the students applying it.
Because we also recently rebranded our radio station, we offered a discounted rate for being a guest on the business radio show we produce. Expo attendees had to simply write down their name and email to setup their show. We kept it simple and welcoming. Nothing over the top. Our menu of services was laid out on the table with plenty of business cards and three people available to man the table.
Stretch Your Legs
Yes, we said it. Leave your table. Make sure you have someone there to cover. Hopefully, you have a reliable team member or partner in your business to stand guard. The main purpose of a networking expo is to speak with and meet attendees. Make it a point to check out all the other vendors beforehand and plan yourself a brief stroll. Stop by the other vendors who you would do business with or would be a prime customer of yours. Introduce yourself as a vendor who wants to network with everyone. There's a good chance everyone else won't be doing the same. Therefore, you'll be standing out.
Speaking of standing out, it's a good idea to stand out from the beginning. Wear something eye-catching. Present yourself in a way where people will remember you. Incorporate this behavior into your table display while you're there. When you venture out, take that unique behavior with you as well. Your display could be what "peacocks" or stands out. A tall background banner could be the key or perhaps something hands on that intrigues people. Anything with a demonstration will definitely stick in people's minds.
Networking Table Event Checklist
Use the below checklist for your next networking table event to ensure you bring your A-game:
- Extra business cards—never put yourself in a situation where you aren't prepared when it comes to a prospect who's interested in your service or product.
- Include visuals—handouts, looping iPad Powerpoint presentations, etc.
- Incorporate some freebies—food, candy, snacks, custom-printed promotional products with your name and logo on them. A discounted service or free product just for stopping by is always a smart move as well.
- Backups—batteries, pens, paper, food, snacks, candy, business cards (we're reiterating again!)
Thank you for your attention! Need to email this blog to someone in your networking group who does a lot of table events? Click below to download the PDF version!