To Exhibit or Not at a Trade Show

As most of you know, I am very involved in the community and am a member of a number of organizations. For me, it’s a great way to stay connected.

I had two different groups recently host a combination type trade show and networking event. I exhibited at one and attended the other.

It really got me to thinking, what’s the best way to “work” one of these events.

At the event we exhibited I feel we got some great traffic and we met some quality people and we are already working with a few of them. So, definitely a win-win situation.

At the second event, I just walked the aisles and networked. Now, granted I feel I met more people and probably handed out more business cards but are these people ever going to do business with me? I am following up on those prospects that I met, but will I get the business?

It’s a dilemma I am sure we all face. What’s the best use of our time and money?

Have a Plan for Exhibiting or Networking a Show

Have a Plan for Exhibiting or Networking a Show

This year not exhibiting at the second event was due mostly to the timing. It was held on a day that was a busy one for me and I just knew I would be too tired to effectively work the booth.  But on the other hand having people come to me versus the other way around might have been better.

I think no matter if you exhibit or not you need to have a plan to get the most out of your investment (time and money). So many people forget about scheduling time after the event to follow up. Are you marketing materials up to date so it’s a quick and easy follow up. Also, don’t wait weeks to touch base – the lead is cold by then.

I don’t know about you, but I hate getting that email – so good to meet you at the event last month. Obviously wasn’t that great or I didn’t make much of an impression for it to take so long to get in touch. And, besides, by then I don’t remember who you were.

Also, if you have a plan and know who is going to be attending the event you can make a list so you make sure you get to everyone you need to. The worst is to find out that a key prospect was there after the fact. But it’s not a total loss, you can always send a note stating – “sorry we didn’t get to meet at the event but I wanted to introduce myself”. It’s worked for me.

So, I think it’s safe to say, there is no right or wrong in exhibiting or just attending. However, in both cases, follow up is key.

Networking Season Is Coming

It’s basically the end of the summer. Seriously, it’s almost August and everyone is already starting to talk about back to school and even Christmas plans! It’s also the time that many business organizations re-start their networking events in earnest. Over the summer months there are limited events, come September you could have multiple events a night.

So how do you choose what’s the best use of your time?

Of course, you probably have your core groups you like to interact with, but maybe it’s time to expand that sphere and venture

Seek out new people and introduce yourself

Seek out new people and introduce yourself

out to network with some new industries. If you’re like me and my sales staff we utilize these networking events to expand our business development efforts. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve struck up a conversation with someone at an event and it’s ultimately resulted in us doing business together.

I admit, I like going to events where I know people. It’s comfortable. But it’s not always the best use of my time. While it may be good to re-connect with some clients at these events, many times I might just end up schmoozing with friends. Fun, yes, productive, no.

So, picking new events and getting out of my comfort zone is one of my goals for this fall. When going to those types of events I make myself act as if I’m one of the hosts. By that I mean, I walk up to people that are standing alone looking lost and introduce myself. They are relieved to be talking to someone and I’ve made some great contacts that way.

I also look for events that may be out of my usual business area. Miami is big. We have many business organizations all over town, so I actually plan on hitting some of the events in a growing business area of town. I am sure I will know a few people and of course I will seek them out at the events and ask them to introduce me around. Another great tool to work the room.

No matter what, plan to get a bit more this fall. We all recognize business is moving again, but if you don’t get out and be seen and keep your pipeline full, you may just get left behind.

Hope to see you at an event soon!

Giving Back

I don’t know about you but I think most everyone should give back to their community in one way shape or form. As most of you know, I’m very involved in the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, on the Board, a Trustee, head of a committee that has three task forces and more. When I first started my business I was involved with even more organizations and I have to admit I burned myself out. Not that I didn’t find it all gratifying, I just found that I was exhausting myself. So I finally learned to say no.

That is until last week. A very dear friend asked me to chair an upcoming fundraising event. I didn’t say yes immediately. She saw the major hesitation in my eyes and maybe my hand tremble at the thought of letting her and the organization down if I accepted. But I did accept. Why?

If you’re in Florida, you may have heard of them, PACE Center for Girls. And they truly do save girls lives. I was the person thatPACE Logodid the “ask” last year at her fundraiser. Before I got up to the microphone two of the girls in program read their stories. They talked about how they had learned to have courage, patience and respect for themselves. They talked about how they now might have a future. Because you see these girls (ages 11-17) have had difficult starts to their lives, abuse, trafficking and may have had brushes with the juvenile justice system.

Their stories brought tears to my eyes literally. And as I got up to speak I realized I was all choked up. So, I stood in front of these 200 people and told them that there was nothing more I could say if those two girls stories hadn’t touched their hearts enough to maybe pull out their check books.

Amazingly I had people come up to me afterwards and said they were always planning to give but after I got all choked up they felt they should give more. So, when I was asked to actually chair the event this year, I thought back to those stories and realized the only answer I could give was yes.

I hope that everyone has found that organization that touches their heart, because you get back so much more than you give.

Why Be Involved

I met someone today via phone that came through an introduction by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce. We have very similar businesses and yet quite different. We came away from the conversation agreeing that we will complement each other’s services quite nicely and we expect to be doing business together in the near future. That’s networking at it’s finest!

However, in the course of our conversation she asked an interesting question. Why are you so involved at the Greater Miami Chamber? And it gave me pause because there isn’t just one answer. One, I do like to give back to my committee and being a business person it fits that I can help other businesses with their development. Secondly, I have gotten a lot of business from my membership. But it’s more than that. I enjoy it. I enjoy meeting new people and introducing them to others.

Yes, I spend a good deal of volunteer time with the Greater Miami Chamber. I am on the Board of Directors, a Trustee member, Chair of Business Excellence (that overseas three important task forces), an Ambassador and on the membership committee. Whew. That is a lot! But to me it is time well spent.networking

For one, I enjoy the camaraderie of the membership. I’ve met some amazing and inspiring people. Many of them have become friends. I enjoy the interaction with other business people. I enjoy learning from them and from the programs the Chamber puts together. I like staying well informed about my community.

We talked about the time spent. Yes, at times it can be quite a bit and at times it can be overwhelming to me. But in the long run I get so much more out of it. My business benefits from it and so do I.

If you are in the South Florida area and want to check it out, let me know. I’d be happy to help. If not, I encourage you to get involved with your local Chamber of Commerce. And once there and involved, don’t forget to ask for the business!!

Thank Those Who Refer You

If you’ve ever read this section of our blog before, then you probably know that the Gossett Marketing team is very involved with networking. We do so through our local chamber of commerce, running and golf groups, and more recently via Twitter and other online channels. You get it: we’re out there, we network, and we want you to do the same! So what if you are already a networking pro? How can we help you take it further?

Well, if you are networking successfully then certainly you are getting referrals. You’ve met so many business contacts through your efforts and you have made such a great impression on them that they want to help you grow. I sincerely hope that this is the case, and if it is, then kudos to you! Other than assisting the individuals and companies to whom you’ve been referred, what do you do when you’ve received a glowing recommendation from a business contact? One thing that I like to do is to say thank you with a hand written note and a gift – nothing extravagant, just a token of appreciation that makes me stand apart from the pack.

One gift that I’m loving right now is a nice metal pen inscribed with my referrer’s name. Sure, you can give them something that is imprinted with your company’s logo, but personalizing the pen helps to ensure that they do not lose it, plus it shows that you took the time to think about them – you’re not just giving out a promotional product that is taking up space in your gift closet.

If you know your referrer very well, then you can give him or her something more personal. Does he enjoy wine? Then what about a pretty corkscrew or bottle stopper? Or if she’s a golfer, then a ball marker would come in handy. Maybe she talks about her dog all of the time – get Fido a colorful bandana! The world is your oyster, I’d just be sure to have any of these items imprinted with your company’s name to keep you top of mind.

If an individual takes the time to refer you and your services to his or her business contact, then certainly he or she deserves a thank you. If a thank you and a smile go far, then think about how much your referrer will appreciate a thank you and a gift! And every time they use that present, you and your company will come to mind.

referral

Be True to You

photo from publicchristianity.org

photo from publicchristianity.org

The “Business Networking Tips” section of this blog can be challenging for me. I’ve said a lot of things about networking during my years writing Interesting Marketing Tidbits – so what else is there for me to say? This results in many Google searches and my reading a number of articles on the subject every week, and to tell you the truth, a lot of the articles give the very same bits and bobs of advice. Today I stumbled upon a piece on Careerealism.com called “10 Tips For People Who Hate Networking” and I loved the first tip that its author, Devora Zack, shares. It says:

 

Be True To You
You are better qualified to be you than anyone else. Stamp out networking advice that demands you behave in ways that drain you. Harness natural abilities as networking strengths rather than liabilities. Like to listen, not talk? Do it. Energize alone? Go for it. Prefer one-on-one conversation? Arrange it.
How true is that?! If you put yourself in a situation where you are uncomfortable then what kind of an impression do you think you are making on those around you? Probably not a great one – and what is networking if not a first impressions game? So go out there and network, but only in situations that make you feel comfortable and allow you to put your best face forward.

Before you do that, check out the rest of the article by clicking here.

“Sweatworking” – are you in?

photo from spectrum.ieee.org

photo from spectrum.ieee.org

I had the radio on in the car today. Everyone always makes fun of me because I listen to it at such a low volume that it’s barely audible, which is probably why I’m never really hip to the newest music and whatnot! I guess I had turned it up a notch because when the DJ came on he mentioned something called “Sweatworking” and explained that it’s a way for professionals to get to know each other while exercising – kind of the opposite of a normal networking event where rather than burn calories you consume them in the form of snacks and alcohol.

As I drove I was thinking about the “Sweatworking” concept. I have written blogs here in the past about how I have had excellent networking luck within my running group – we got together based on our pace and are a motley crew but somehow we get along well and are even able to help one another in a professional capacity. However, when we met our intention was not to sweat and network: it was all about running. For some reason, that makes me feel like “Sweatworking” is somewhat awkward.

I love the idea of non-traditional networking, but I think that I like it when it happens organically like it has within my running group. “Sweatworking” is non-traditional but to me it feels somewhat forced. Maybe it’s because I’m a drippy-sweaty worker-outer, or maybe it’s due to the fact that many exercises are terribly unflattering, but I do not really want to meet potential business partners when I’m exercising. I’d really rather them see me at my best first, then later on they can witness me doing my thing in possibly-sheer Lululemon pants!

Now, just because “Sweatworking” isn’t my thing does not mean that it’s not a perfect fit for you. Maybe (hopefully) you look better than I do mid-workout – perhaps you glow instead of sweating like I do. Perhaps you’re shy in normal networking situations but the gym brings out the best in you. If you like it, then go for it. “Sweatworking” is a real thing, in Chicago at least. Visit their website by clicking here. Me? I’ll stick to huffing and puffing with my already-established running buddies and hopefully we can continue to expand our business relationships.

Top 5 Twitter Errors

Twitter Error

I have been handling the majority of Gossett Marketing’s social media for about a year now, so I’m getting more comfortable blogging and interacting on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Having somewhat of a handle on the various sites has also allowed me to understand what not to do. So many self-proclaimed social media “gurus” make egregious errors that are so easily avoided! Because of its fast pace, I find that these mistakes stand out the most on Twitter, so I am going to focus on that networking site for this post. Here are the top 5 Twitter errors that hold people back:

  1. Having no biography. If you don’t have a quick, informative blurb about yourself, then I am simply not going to follow you. You can’t take the time to tell the Twitterverse about yourself, so why are you going to take the time to get to know me?
  2. Having a horrible biography. I’m constantly amazed by the number of bios that I read that contain profanity or are sexually explicit. I do not follow those people! And I tend to stay away from people who have huge spelling or grammatical errors – if they can’t pull together 140 characters correctly, then chances are they won’t share meaningful content.
  3. Not having a picture. Our Twitter account, @MarketngTidbits, has over 2,000 followers and we follow about that many people ourselves. I use other accounts’ pictures as a quick and easy way to identify them. Some people really like photos of the account holder, but I’ll take anything: your logo, your face, your dog, just something that helps me pick you out of a lineup.
  4. Tweeting the same thing all of the time. I understand that most of the Twitter accounts that I follow are business related, so they try to focus on that. I recognize that I can get very myopic and talk about marketing all day long! But I don’t tweet the exact same information 17 times in a row, and I don’t think you should either. I know that you’re proud of your latest blog post, but if you throw it into your followers’ faces continuously, then they will stop paying attention to you (they might even unfollow). Give us some useful and varied info about your subject of choice – it’s all about content!
  5. Not letting conversations end. OK, the key to successful Twitter networking is engagement, and I know that I love to talk to my Twitter friends. However, sometimes our conversations need to end! For example, when I give @faketwitter a #FF mention and he thanks me, I usually say something like “you’re welcome, have a great weekend!” To me, that should be that. @faketwitter does not need to respond with an emoticon! If @faketwitter and I were having a conversation in person and I said, “have a great weekend” and walked away, he wouldn’t tap me on the shoulder to give me a goofy smile – treat Twitter like you would a real conversation.

Actually, I think #5 is a good stopping point. Treat the people on Twitter like you would people at a typical networking event. Don’t beat them over the head with the same sentence, let conversations stop naturally, and present yourself in a good light (both as a picture and in your biography). Basically, be a normal but engaging human being and you never know who you’ll meet or where your normal but engaging interactions will take you!

Networking with Friends

photo from www.videoinspiration.net

photo from www.videoinspiration.net

In this blog I ramble on a lot about the importance of networking, how to go about networking, what to do if you hate networking, etc. Yeah, I’m kind of a networking know-it-all, but I very often forget to mention the most obvious resource: friends.

A good friend recently had a birthday and we celebrated with a big brunch. 15 of us sat outside for hours enjoying a water view, mimosas, and each other’s’ company. A delightful afternoon was had by all, and during our leisurely brunch we realized that we should all be doing business together! Our group involved a finance guy, a doctor, a couple of lawyers, a PR person, a pharmacist, a promotional marketing products distributor (me!), and a medical equipment guy, just to name a few. Between the 15 of us, there were definitely some opportunities to work together now or later, referrals were mentioned, and introduction meetings were planned. Funnily enough, though, it had never really dawned on any of us to connect on a professional level! These are, after all, the people who have seen me at my worst – and vice versa.

Anyhow, I have been remiss in my networking with friends; therefore, I have never really mentioned doing so on this blog. So go out and have a nice long meal with your oldest buddies. You will have a great time, and you might just realize that your friends could be an excellent business resource.

How Promo Items Lead to Networking

photo from calendar2015.loveitsomuch.com

photo from calendar2015.loveitsomuch.com

You know how I always tell you that promotional products are smart giveaways because they help your customer remember your name? Well I’m not lying! For the last few holiday seasons Gossett Marketing has sent a single-page annual calendar to our customers in lieu of cards. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve walked into a customer’s office and seen it tacked to their bulletin board, meaning that they see our company’s name each and every time they glance at it. Well, last week – months after the calendars were delivered – I received an email from a customer that read, “Just want to let you all know that the 2015 calendar card you sent for the holidays is a great help and useful. I look at it every day to help me schedule things throughout the year without having to flip through a monthly calendar.”

That email let me know that our own giveaways are working!

You might wonder why I am using the networking portion of our blog to sing the praises of promotional marketing products when the latter subject has its own category. You see, the prom item that we sent to our customer months ago inspired her to reach out to me. She was then at the top of my mind and when I had a vendor meeting later on, I saw a new item that I knew she would enjoy. I got her a sample and, lo and behold, she ordered it! Essentially, my promotional product spurred networking and got me a sale!

FEATURED VIDEO


Trending Stories

  • Protect Your Checks with Anti-Fraud Ink! Protect Your Checks with Anti-Fraud Ink! Most may not realize it, but the checks we write are one of the most targeted forms of fraud. According to a 2015 AFP Payments Fraud and Control Surv...
  • Buy A Lady A Drink Buy A Lady A Drink I am not a huge beer drinker and yet here I am using this blog as an opportunity to write about the Stella Artois beer chalices for the second time...
  • Branching Out: Innovative Promo Items! Branching Out: Innovative Promo Items! 2016 is promising to bring more innovation in promo items thus far! We are starting to see more origination and creativity, apart from the traditiona...