How to get more leads and sales from a trade show, event or conference using LinkedIn
Going to a conference or trade show is a costly activity – it doesn’t matter if you’re going as a visitor or as an exhibitor there is always a cost involved.
Did you know that you can use LinkedIn in a few different ways to increase your Return on Investment (ROI)?- read on if you want to learn how….
Step 1: Set up meetings with customers and hot prospects in advance
Email and the LinkedIn messaging platform are used in different ways by different people and sometimes sending an email out before an event to try and set up meetings is just not enough. In the past i’ve actually had a much better response from LinkedIn messages than from email.
Aside from the cost, trade shows also take valuable time out of the working week which means that replying to your email invitation might keep slipping down the priority list. Adding additional reminders can help encourage a response and you can do this by sending out a message on LinkedIn and also posting content in your newsfeed to let everyone know what to expect at the event – more on this below. Most CRM systems now have a LinkedIn integration function where you can link your contacts record to their LinkedIn profile so you can quickly find them – this can save you lots of time!
Step 2: Give your network a compelling reason to attend the event and come and see you, or if you’re just visiting give your network a reason to meet with you.
I’m not just talking about your standard ‘we’re exhibiting at Event O booth 123 we look forward to seeing you there’ type post. Give your network a bloody good reason to come and see you and let them know what to expect.
Even if you’re the only company offering your specific solution you still need to give your prospects a reason to take time out of their day to come and see you.
What’s your event hook? Are you laughing a new product and service, do you have something new and different to showcase, what are the benefits of the solution you’re offering and why does your target market need it?
Step 3: Be prepared
Do your research ahead of time – a lot of prospects and specifically ones in need of a solution will start to talk online – either via a post to say that they are attending said event or by commenting on other posts.
About four weeks or so ahead of time, regularly search for content which mentions the event you’re going to or the event hashtag (Twitter is another great platform to do this) and engage with it – either reply to a comment, comment yourself or send the person in question a private message.
You can also research prospects based nearby the event location that you’re not connected to and send them a connection request with a follow-up message asking them if they are going to the event. If you’ve not done this before you’ll be amazed at the response however, please note that in some industries don’t be surprised if you get a message a few weeks later by someone that’s only just read it….(another reason why it helps to engage in the comments and newsfeed before hand)
If you’re targeting other exhibiting companies then they are more than likely going to be busy during the event and not want to get caught up in small talk with other exhibitors. Grab the exhibitor list from the event organisers, identify businesses you want to engage with and contact them ahead of time. If you give them a good enough reason and the fit is right they will make time out of their day to talk to you and you then have an opportunity for a more meaningful conversation. There is nothing more frustrating than waiting to speak to someone at an event for an in-person conversation to be told you’d need to pick up after the event and more likely over the phone.
Personally – I prefer in person conversations to over the phone chats – you achieve more, get to know the person a bit better and save yourself a tonne of time in the long term.
Step 4: Search for event related conversations in LinkedIn groups.
If there’s nothing then start the conversation but make it interesting and don’t just go straight in with your sales pitch – Remember, you want people to come and see you! If you’re a member of external forums and groups then just bring the conversation back to Linkedin – if you find someone you want to network with or a potential prospect then add them as a new connection and start networking ahead of time!
Step 5: Whilst you’re at the event be sure to have the LinkedIn mobile app handy and use the ‘Local to me’ function.
This is still relatively new but a great way to expand your network and break the ice with people you might not usually have the opportunity to speak to.
I’ve saved the best till last here!
Step 6:Connect with everyone you’ve met at the event and keep the conversation going (aka followup! This is one of the biggest mistakes I see people make in general and not just at trade shows)
Don’t always presume the person you’ve met is on or uses LinkedIn either – if not, invite them to use LinkedIn and talk about the benefits of staying connected. If you have a long sales cycle this is especially important to remain in-mind. Once you’re connected, keep the relationship alive and keep in contact and engage either via LinkedIn messenger or the newsfeed.
I hope I’ve given you a few ideas you can take away and implement and as always if you’d like some more info or would like to have a natter about this please send me a message and we can chat!
Something you may or may not know about me:
I’ve been involved in every stage of events operations and sales for over 15 years now from small trade show exhibition booths to hosting multi-day user conferences around the world (one of which resulted in over £3.2Million in sales). I’ve also worked in over 10 different markets and both public and private sectors so I like to think I know a thing or two about how to make the most of them.