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finding potential investors : industry trade shows

In the initial phase of your business, attending industry trade shows is considered by every entrepreneur to help move their company forward. Industry trade shows are focused events that often take place only once or twice in a year. Importance of these events lies in the fact that they bring together many top of the line investors, senior management and lot of potential clients looking for a particular technology, product or service. As a start-up company this is one of the cost-effective things you could do. If done properly Industry trade shows can be very useful events to push your company forward.

Benefits of industry trade shows:

  • Entrepreneurs meet potential investors and customer face-to-face for a brief period of time inexpensively.

  • Smaller companies can usually afford to have attractive displays and can actually appear substantial as much larger companies.

  • Though Industry trade shows do not allow on the floor sales, it is a great medium to generate sales leads.

  • Because industry trade shows take place in single locations and have short runs, it is possible during the course of one industry trade show to personally meet most of your important and potential investors, clients and suppliers.

Industry trade shows Do’s and Don’ts

The cost of booth space, product literature, airfare, meals and other expenses can take a significant toll on a small business, if you don’t get the hoped results from the show. No single thing can guarantee you will have a profitable show, but there are a number of things that you can do to better your chances for success. Here are a few to consider.

  • Focus on correct Industry trade shows: All industry trade shows, even if they are within the same industry have different focuses. Some trade shows although similar in theme are more effective than others. As a minimum, plan on attending at least three to four industry trade show’s every year. As an entrepreneur you need to focus on the correct industry trade shows that will bring most value to your company. If looking for a potential investor, look for the Industry trade show focused on this aspect.

  • Pre-Show promotion: Don’t wait for the show to start, try seeing investors and customers before the event begins. Send out invites, mails and announcements to your prospects in advance to stop by your booth during the show. Inserting announcements in bills, on your web page and ads that run near the show date is a good idea. Call important investors and customer a week before the show and set appointments to meet them during the show.

  • Choose a good floor location: Where you park yourself is the key. Position yourself where maximum crowd is expected, for example the water cooler or food junctions where there is maximum flow and visibility. Don’t sit behind the exhibition booth, it will send out the message that you are not interested or aggressive. People will just keep on walking.

  • Prepare a professional display: You need to have an eye-catching display, if people have to take notice. Signs, photographs, and other elements used in the display should look professional. Avoid banner printed with dot matrix printer and homemade posters, this will make you look unprofessional.

  • Have sufficient handouts: Have professionally prepared handouts and broachers in quantity to distribute in the event. Have them prepared well ahead of the event to avoid last minute rush charges. Avoid preparing it yourself with a printer and photocopier, because what turns out may not do justice to your product.

  • Be sure about your product: Make sure your product is working fine, you will loose many potential investors and customers than your will ever gain.

  • Walk around the industry trade show floor: Set aside sufficient amount of time to walk the industry trade show floor. Walking the floor should not be a random event. After you register, go over the industry trade show guide and exhibitor map. Identify the exhibitor booths you would like to visit as strategic partners. Identify all your competitors and visit their booths to better understand their strategy.

  • Take notes: You will have conversation with dozens of people during the industry trade show; many will give you their business cards and names. Make sure you remember what conversations you have had and why you have saved their cards by jotting a note behind their business cards or on a note pad while you’re at the show.

  • Trained booth personnel: Choose your staff carefully and be sure they know how to deal with enquiries. Avoid personnel who look unkept, bad-mouth competitors, are not well versed with the language, talk to each other and not prospects, sit at the booth and wait to be approached.

  • Demo: Plan to have demos so that more than one prospect can view them at a time. If possible use projection, movie or large computer screens and have demos with demonstrators facing audience or aisle of the trade show.

  • Follow-up: Follow-up when the show is over. An industry trade show is only as good as the business or funds it generates, so don’t stash the cards and wait for months before making that crucial call. Call, e-mail or send a handwritten note as soon as you return, at the most within 1 week of the show, Wait too long and you have lost them.

  • Can’t afford? Still Go: Attend the industry trade show even of you are unable to hire a booth. Ask for a free pass to the exhibitor’s area, once there walk around and network. Introduce yourself and let people know what you do and exchange cards.

By focusing on the correct industry trade show and proper planning you can make the most of these events. This can include meeting potential investors, clients and strategic partners. As an entrepreneur take care to identify and attend limited number of industry trade shows each year. Doing so you will have an opportunity to identify, develop and nurture necessary relationships to move your start-up company forward.