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Networking at Ealing Business Expo

How to get leads from your local business show – without spending any money

"Not gonna lie" (as my 16-year-old and his friends would say), if you have a product or service to sell, taking a stand at your local business show is one of the best marketing options you could consider.

But if you're short on budget, or time, or you missed the deadline for applying for stands, or you just don't like what exhibiting entails, you can still get a lot out of a business expo, even without having to spend a single penny.

Here are five non-costing promotional opportunities to take advantage of at your next business show:

1. Free entry

Although some business shows can charge for tickets to special seminars, or for lunch, or the after-event social, most of the time these shows are free to enter and to have a wander around. You can pick up a lot of potential business from other people who are "just visiting" - get talking to the person in front of you in the queue for coffee, in the bathroom, or at the parking machine. Everyone is there for the same reason and with the same mindset: to make connections that can lead to business profit. Now is not the time to be shy or reserved; there is money to be made.

2. Speed networking

Check the show's event schedule and you're likely to find one or two (or more!*) speed networking sessions lined up in there. Speed networking is a quick and sure-fire way to spread the word about your business to a large number of people in a short space of time. What's especially good is that you can right away answer any questions that come up about your product or service. If you use your call to action right, the persons changing seats opposite you could not only become clients, but they could end up referring you to other potential clients.

3. Display areas

Notice-boards, table-tops, leaflet stands, scribble charts, even your own shoulders, chest, back and wrists are all available (and no-charge) areas to promote your business. If the event organisers have provided a display area for everyone's marketing materials like flyers, brochures and magazines, be sure to leave some (not too many!) of your own branded products there. Others who come along to leave their own products will see yours there, and may at least give you a follow on Instagram - something which is not to be dissed as a serious lead!

The option of using your "shoulders, chest" etc, refers to actually wearing your brand - for example shirts with the logo or message printed or embroidered on, or a string of wristbands that you can give away like business cards. Be careful not to go overboard though, as the paid-up exhibitors may complain that what you're doing is not fair, and the stricter organisers may ask you to leave.

4. Social media

Event hashtags are there for a reason - so that everyone can join in the discussion. If you're at an event, and you tweet a photo or video of it with the hashtag in the caption, the event organisers and other attendees will pick it up, retweet you to all their own networks, and bingo! you get the visibility, the credibility, and probably quite a few new followers too. This also works well on Instagram.

5. Offer to help

Speaking of credibility, aligning yourself with the show's organisers is a fast track to earning the trust of other attendees of the show, and one way to do this is to offer to help out in some visible way at the expo. For example, before hand you could let the show organisers know you would come early to help set up - ask what they need, perhaps a few snacks for the coffee table (in exchange for leaving a few flyers on the table) would be appreciated, or a prize for the show raffle, or for someone to hand out welcome flyers in the street outside the venue.

If you keep your eye out for chances, there are lots of other ways of using a business show to create business opportunities for yourself without the need for taking a paid exhibition stand. You might have to work harder at it - but as business owners, hard work is not something we tend to shy away from anyway. Good luck, let me know what free methods you end up using at your next business show.

For more information or to find out more contact:

Carlene Bender

Director, Ealing Business Expo (Contactus)

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram: @EalingBizExpo

* at the upcoming Ealing Business Expo 2020, we have a record number of speed networking sessions scheduled: an unheard-of five (5!) 45-minute sessions spread across the two days: Monday 23 and Tuesday 24 March 2020. Sign up via Eventbrite for latest Expo news,

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