Entry #3: Aching Feet from Walking Trade Shows

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It was late August when my boss pulled me into his office and said, “I was supposed to go to Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco this year, however my wife is expecting our first child and I need to stay close to home.”  Who could blame the guy?! I understood I would be responsible for attending this event and coming back with a bagful of contacts.  It felt like a daunting task.

I thought to myself… Where do I start? Which booths at the business expo do I visit first? Will I have enough time to cover all the booths? Will the Sham-Wow! guy be there?!  It was enough to make a first year account manager’s head spin.

Luckily, prior to leaving for Oracle’s OpenWorld my boss gave me some pearls of wisdom and they have served me well ever since.

Expectations:  First thing he said is to set realistic expectations.  Always seek Contacts and not Contracts.  “Do NOT sell”, he said, “break the ice, create mind share, and connect with people.”  After all, people buy from people, right?  Connecting with a target client builds a relationship rather than being just a name or a face in their memory.

Goals & Planning:  He asked me to set a goal for the networking event and to start reaching out to target clients before the event.  This includes identifying the prospects and then researching them.  If it’s done right, they should know you before you walk to their booth to introduce yourself.  This activity gives you a numerical goal, and a plan to execute. 

Keep Your Promises:  It’s very important to keep your promise of contacting new prospects after the trade show—follow up is key.  He said persistence pays, but don’t be a pest! Be sure to keep some information for another time, that way you can commit the prospect to another conversation.  This allows you to stand out from the flood of email solicitations they’re likely to receive after the trade show.

The last piece of advice I received was the most fun. If at any period during the event you get tired and want a smile on your face, “Visit your competitors at the show and ask them what they DON’T do well.  Then stand back and watch ’em squirm.”

Regards,
Magha Devan, Director of Sales
Vector Consulting, Inc.
6455 East Johns Crossing Suite 250
Duluth, GA 30097
Tel: 770-225-7684
Magha.Devan@vectorconsulting.com
http://vectorconsulting.com

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About Dan Gallo

I'm a small business lifer, starting/running businesses since I sold seeds door-to-door as a kid in The Bronx. I've played guitar and enjoyed baseball since I was 5 (born a NY Yankees fan). Just prior to marrying Kim in 1983 I became a Christian. We have two sons; Daniel's a musician & social media expert with a smart, insightful sense of humor, and Adam who recently graduated from Brooklyn College double majoring in Creative Writing/Literature and Anthropology. Adam now works in the non-profit sector. Since 2002 one thing we love to do together is go on service/missions trips to Belize. We've collectively spent 60+ weeks in Belize with this missions organization http://twaw.org. I started my 1st company in January 1985, and been self-employed ever since. I sold my last company, Mentor Communications Group, in '04. After 2 years w/ the acquiring company I started The Allasso Group, LLC doing Small Business Consulting, Fund Raising/Capital Raise-up Campaigns, Sales Strategy, Outsourced Sales Agency work, & Digital Marketing Programs (Social Media, SEM, etc.) since April 2006. Notable projects: Hired as Small Business Advocate and Social Media Director for IBM's "Supplier-Connection" - Feb '11-Dec '13. Hired as COO to help turn-around late stage start-up software company myVRM. Jul12-Dec '13 Hired as CEO of CoupleWise.com, a Digital Health2.0 app, to write business plan, raise seed capital, & completely redesign and relaunch the app. Aug '16 I won a Finalist spot for MassChallenge UK's 2016 fall cohort in London from Sept thru Nov. Started Oct15 - Current. I enjoy helping turn-around struggling small businesses, and launching new business ventures. Feel free to contact me with opportunities.
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