Networking, Selling or Just Playing a Game

I was one of the judges at The Lancaster Chamber’s Business Expo a few weeks ago. They gave us a sheet listing different categories and asked us to select the top three for each. I can tell you that walking through a trade show or expo takes on a whole different meaning when you’re asked to evaluate each exhibitor’s performance. Our Chamber acknowledges that this event is as much about networking as it is about selling. It was fairly clear to me which was each organization’s focus. But I wonder if it was also their intent. In either case, they were building brand awareness and helping attendees form impressions of their products and services. So I say both won the day. Those who lost – in my opinion – were the ones that thought having a game to make attendees stop and play would make their brand memorable. That’s partly true, but I was surprised at the number of businesses that convinced me to play a game (I lost track of the number of times I did a putting contest) then let me walk away without any attempt to engage me to explain who they are and what they do. The worst were the booths with people sitting and staring at their laptops or smart phones. Come on people!

If your organization exhibits at shows or expos, I encourage you to have a strategy, plan your execution and critically assess if it will engage and inform attendees, and if they will have a lasting memory of their visit to your booth. And include having a strategy for reconnecting with them after the show.

By the way, I made most of my putts that day. But I don’t remember at which booths.