How to Use Linkedin for your next Trade Show
Linkedin, especially when used in combination with Google and Twitter, offers attendees and show presenters a powerful way to get in touch with others before, after as well as throughout an exhibition.
Once you begin to arrange your next exhibition event, among the first steps you can take is see if there's a Twitter hashtag (denoted by a hash or # and a one-word keyword) for the event. Use Twitter Search to find these hashtags. Recurring events may use an abbreviated version of the event name plus the year, for instance Australian Electronics Show may be #AES2013. A single event may even be circulating multiple hashtags. Hashtags have recently also have found their way into Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Facebook and Google .
Once you have discovered the hashtag for your exhibition, you can begin to watch tweets and other social media mentions which include your show. You can then being to engage with people who have used the hashtag. Surprisingly, many businesses engaged in social media don’t bother to reciprocate interest by following someone who is following their company’s twitter stream. There are several free Twitter tools which let you auto-follow people when they follow your account.
LinkedIn and your Company Profile
Most companies communicate a few particulars about their presence at an exhibition through press releases, email campaigns or similar. These communications are a fantastic place to reference the show’s hashtag, which can get your content discovered, but also to include a link to your company’s Linkedin page. Make sure someone is maintaining your company’s LinkedIn page with updates to create value and also include information about event. Ensure your company has a link to Linkedin on your website’s home page, as well Linkedin sharing icons. If your company has a blog, these icons are particularly helpful in building a following of interested fans.
Relationship Building on Linkedin
Linkedin can be used to cultivate relationships before a show, plan meetings with prospective and existing clients, suppliers and partners and connect with people from the show after the event.
As you follow Linkedin members on Twitter, you can begin to establish a relationship with them (most LinkedIn members who actively tweet include a link to their Twitter account on their Linkedin profile). Ideally you would take a few seconds to click through any active URL on their Linkedin or Twitter page to see if the user has a blog you can connect with. You can send a tweet using the “@twittername” feature on Twitter to invite them to your booth, but ensure you have an inviting offer to avoid spamming.
Don’t forget the exhibition sponsors. Many exhibition spaces have professional LinkedIn pages where they may post about events coming up and talk about key exhibitors. Many trade shows or expo halls have professional LinkedIn pages, where they may post about upcoming events and talk about key exhibitors that will be in attendance. If an exhibition hall or conference centre staff member has bent over backwards to assist you with your setup and logistics, why not endorse them or write a recommendation for their profile.
Using Groups to Reach More of the Right People
LinkedIn’s Groups offer an opportunity to post relationship-building updates that provide value, such as urls to meaningful and relevant blog content or learning sessions your company may be sponsoring. Occasionally a show could have a dedicated Linkedin Group you can join. You can do a search on groups to find ones relevant to the show you are attending.
When you join a Group, you can specify whether or not you’d like to receive email updates or digests of the Group activity. You can change the settings for emailed updates for any groups you belong to, so as you get closer to the show dates you may want to consider changing the settings for a group related to an event to more frequent prior to the show, like from no updates, to either weekly or daily.
If your aim is to to meet decision makers, you can request to connect with specific individuals through LinkedIn. If you’re already a member of a shared Group on Linkedin, you can go the Members area, and then search by title or geographic location, such as your company’s home region or near the city where the Exhibition is held. The shared membership in the Group is key, because it allows you request to connect with them directly. Send a polite note with your invitation but keep it short and sweet. People are more likely to connect with individuals who have a rock solid profile, so make certain you have an up to date profile photo and your profile is complete.
Get A Process
Depending on how large the event, it may be a good idea to break your pre-event activity into several sessions over several days. You can also recruit a team member such as an administrative assistant or a sales representative to help discover attendees to your event, follow hashtags and post to Groups and your own company LinkedIn page.
Investing in Relationships
When the event is finished, if you be certain you follow up leads promptly and connect with future partners by sending invitations of LinkedIn, you will differentiate yourself from other show attendees and build online business relationships. Always take the time to write a personal note when you send the invitation, referencing a conversation you had at the show and indicating how linking together will be beneficial.This can be a lengthy process, but in take into consideration it’s people who make decisions about who they do business with. If your product or service has anything to with relationship build, its well worth the effort.
Click here to connect with Spyder Displays on Linkedin.