Here’s what you can do to take advantage of your next trade show or convention or even a one night networking event.
1. DO Your Homework! Go online and spend one hour going over the offerings for your next event. Not only will this give you a feel for what you will be walking into, but it gives you something to chat about as you meet people once you arrive at the event. (an hour of prep will be better than 4 days of now knowing why you are there.)
2. Sit with yourself and decide before you arrive, what is it you want to come away with. Have an event goal. You are spending money to attend events, so make it worth the time and money. If you have a goal for the event, you will know if that time and money has been well spent.
3. Be open to go with the flow. I met a variety of folks at the event, in my booth, and in various café’s near the convention center. And when the conversations are going well, you want to be flexible enough to hang out and see where it takes you.
4. If you are on your own at a large event like the BEA, make a few friends who you can bounce ideas off of. That way if one of you meets a cool contact, they can help you meet them too and vice versa.
5. Try and get out and enjoy the city you are visiting. Or what’s the point of hours on a plane to get there.
6. Take notes as you go. You will make contacts and it’s important to write a few notes on every card you exchange, so when you get home and start your follow up, you know what or why you met this person.
7. Wear comfortable and flattering clothes. But most important is wear very comfortable shoes. That many hours on a concrete floor, reeks havoc on your shins and feet.
8. Drink lots of water. Even though you will want caffeine, hydrate. And wash your hands. There is lots of hand shaking going on. Stay healthy.
9. Let it go. If you feel, like I did most of this week that, it probably was not worth the time, money and knock to your self esteem, just simply chock it up and let it go.
As well as my trade show learning’s, I also met an entrepreneur and author who also shared my booth, James White. He was engaging, enthusiastic and had even more energy than I do… and I think I have quite a bit. He had attended this book show before and was giving me some great tips on how to “work the room” so to speak. He also shared his Linked In profile with me and because his business background was so diverse so I thought I’d ask him how has he grown his business to such success in his young life. (he will be mad at me for pointing that out) he is young (27). Me, not so much(52), so I was fascinated by this. I mean James has started and helped so many businesses in the past 10 years, it’s staggering. Check out his bio at: http://www.jamestimothywhite.com/about-james.php and his general website at www.jamestimothywhite.com
I asked him a few questions on what it takes to create a successful small business and here’s what he had to say:
Question: How did you know building businesses was your passion?
James: At the age of 12 I fell in love with money. I started by shoveling snow and loved the idea I could make money for myself. This turned into a great landscaping company for me.
Question: What do you believe has been the formula for your success?
James: Truthfully, I have always followed the advice that 50% of your success is for just showing up. I was reliable and I built credibility, even at a very young age. I also realized very quickly that if I didn’t have the proper processes and procedures in place, things tended to fall apart. And… when you make mistakes, and you will, FIX THEM!
Question: What is it that you really love about what you do? From your website, we can see you are involved in several businesses. What really makes you happy?
James: Truthfully, helping people start a small business and watching it grow to a success.
Question: What combination of skills and attributes do you think it takes for small business owners to realize success?
James: First in priority is, Drive, then capital, marketing, fulfillment, credibility and great service. He also mentioned that good looks and sex appeal help too. And he said this with a smile, well maybe it was a smirk?
He went on to say that once your business is up and running, you need to make sure you have the right processes in place to make sure your people are doing their jobs.
We chatted about how to stay energized when you have so many irons in the fire and he said for him, turning off the ringer on his smart phone has been a lifesaver. That way he chooses when to answer and the ring does not stress him out. You need to reduce the stress you will feel as you grow your business. Work in small chunks to make tasks manageable. Take lots of short breaks in your day to move and get air and water. Eat well, reduce sodium in your diet and consider getting some B12 shots to help keep you calm and healthy.
Get all these tips and more in James’s new book “42 Businesses under 100 Dollars” James Timothy White.
I’d love to hear your ideas on how you have built your successful small business. Send me your ideas.