As part of the preparations for every E3 Business Expo, we hold an annual exhibitor training day. We held this year’s event on 6th February at the Last Drop Village in Bolton, and representatives of 46 businesses attended.
Part of the day is spent looking at the sort of issues we have been covering in our ongoing video tutorial series about maximising your return on investment as an exhibitor. However, we recently made a public commitment, one which we believe is unique in the expo sector. We said we would seek to ensure that every exhibitor who signs up for the 2019 E3 Business Expo earns a clear return on investment before the start of the event itself. In the light of this significant challenge, we decided to change the event’s format.
As ever, we covered all the most important aspects of preparation, encouraging visitor interaction, data capture and how to manage the crucial post-event follow-ups. The big difference was a new segment that looked at the benefits of adopting a more open business mindset.
To explain: events like the Expo are all about developing new contacts and broadening one’s networks. Exhibitions are a great way of doing that – meeting lots of new business visitors in a short space of time – but visitors aren’t the only suppliers of potential leads. Fellow exhibitors can also be a great source of new contacts, provided that everyone buys into the idea that there are great benefits to opening up one’s contact lists to others.
This is the principle we explored at the training event. It was the first time we’d attempted it, so it was something of a test, but in the event, it worked superbly.
The challenge we set the exhibitors was essentially to match opportunities and potential suppliers; to be completely open about what products and services they or their contacts needed, and to be willing to consider fellow exhibitors’ suggestions as to who could meet those needs.
Trust was crucial to this process. Ask the same question of a room full of strangers and the exercise probably wouldn’t work; most people would be protective of their information and wary of sharing it. However, the E3 Expo and Awards have built up a community of like-minded businesses over the years – people who recognise the value of building bridges and working together for mutual benefit. Accordingly, the session quickly gathered pace and became very animated. Opportunities were presented and discussed, and all kinds of new connections were established.
Time constraints eventually forced us to bring the session to an end, but in just three hours of discussion, the attendees had made a total of 152 new introductions. Many of these have already resulted in new orders. We have since received emails and phone calls from exhibitors saying how pleased they were with the event, and how valuable it had been to them.
Here’s an example from Mary Speakman, Director of Code Galaxy.
“The support provided by the 1 Events Media team is superb. It has made us feel well equipped, more confident and much better prepared. The networking session in the afternoon was fantastic: well ahead of the event itself, we have already generated opportunities to quote for three websites, so we’re really excited about the prospect of exhibiting.”
This year’s E3 Business Expo will feature 70 exhibition stands and a series of free seminars. It is expected to attract record numbers of visitors, so anyone wishing to attend is advised to pre-book to save time queuing on the day. Highlights of the Exhibitor Training & Networking event can be found online in pictures and video.