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6 Tips For Scheduling Meetings Before A Trade Show

By Darren Pierce on Mar 4, 2016 1:13:51 PM

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Getting ready for a trade show takes a bit of drudgery in the details of planning and pre-work, but it’s also the perfect time for setting up meetings, prospecting, and creating leads.

Focus on these six areas in your pre-work to get results at the trade show.

Timing Matters

The first thing to consider is timing. Can you start too early? Yes.

It’s easy to get caught up in being proactive and wanting to get the word out. I’ve done a lot of trade shows and, in my experience, prospecting about two weeks before the show works best. If you start sooner, you’re likely to get responses from prospects asking for you to contact them closer to the date of the show. Regaining ground after appearing over-eager can hurt your chances of finding leads.

Use Swag to Connect

The next thing is giveaways. Utilizing some sort of giveaway as a means to secure meetings is something that has really worked for me in the past.

  • You don’t necessarily have to go with big-ticket items like iPads or Fitbits as giveaways to be effective. Certainly, with the larger items, you can ask for more in return. If I am giving away a big-ticket item, I always try to get a discovery meeting out of the prospect before the show, and then they can pick up their item later at the show.
  • If you are working with a smaller budget, you can offer things like gift cards or even a virtual coffee in exchange for a meeting. I found quite a bit of success with $10 Starbucks gift cards that I cut in half, and mail one half to the prospect, offering them the other half if they connect with me at the trade show. I actually had a 60% return rate on that giveaway.

Send the Right Message

Successful messaging is the next thing you should consider if you’re learning how to create your own leads. The most important thing is to be personal.

  • Find something that you have in common with the person you’re prospecting – maybe you attended the same college, or you watch the same television show, or you’re into the same hobby or interest.
  • Use that in the message, or in the subject line, to make it more personal and you will have a much greater response.
  • Use the one-swipe rule for messages. That means that when you send a message to someone, it should be brief enough that they only have to swipe their phone once to see the whole thing.

So, make it personal, but also short and sweet.

Find the Right Rhythm

Next, you need to think about cadence. Creating leads is a social science.

For the two weeks before the show, you need to be using all the channels and social media outlets you have.

  • I use email, LinkedIn, and Twitter extensively just prior to a show
  • When sharing on social media, share on a regular schedule so your prospects know to expect posts from you and follow your channel

Keep in mind that you may have to reach out to prospects numerous times before you get a response. Don’t give up though, persistence is the key.

Stay Connected

Using social media opportunities is another area to utilize.


  • Use the show’s hashtag: follow it and use it on your own posts
  • You may be able to connect with prospects who are there because they use the hashtag, too
  • Tweet leading up to, and during the show: Schedule tweets to post during the show because you will be busy, but be sure that you check Twitter often
  • Some eCommerce customers respond to Twitter polls, giving you great information ahead of time on what is most interesting or important to your prospects


LinkedIn is a great tool for making the most of trade shows as it carries more weight than Facebook and Twitter in B2B connections.

  • Post that you are going to be attending and you would like to connect with others who are there
  • Nurture prospects on LinkedIn who might be attending the show
  • Like and comment on prospects’ posts that speak to you

Follow your prospects on LinkedIn and Twitter, especially if you know that they will be attending the same show you are.

Reach Your Goal

The last thing to consider in your trade show pre-work is closing confirmed meetings. When you are talking to someone about connecting at a trade show, you need to make sure that there is a specific meeting time, not just a promise to “stop by” your booth.

  • Use a calendar invitation to set the meeting: When there is a scheduled time to meet, and the likelihood of connecting greatly increases
  • Include your location and phone number in the invitation

Trade shows can be a lot of work, but they are great for finding leads and building rapport with prospects. Focus on these six areas to set meetings that make it in your eCommerce prospects’ calendars.

Click to learn more eCommerce trade show tips!

Written by Darren Pierce

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