How to Set Scheduled Meetings (Dozens!) Prior to a Trade Show with Social Selling

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Having just returned from a successful trade show at Etail West in Palm Desert, CA, this topic is very front of mind for me, and I presented on this topic in an interactive webinar late February. For the entire interactive recording of me presenting, click here.


At Etail West, I set up dozens of one-to-one meetings for myself over the course of 3 days using the following tactics and principles:





  • Message your prospect no earlier than 2 weeks before a show. I've made a lot of mistakes in the past of trying to secure a meeting a month or more out, and all it ends up doing is wasting time. 90% of the time a prospect will say "contact me the week before" to set up time. 2 weeks max is when you should reach out to secure a meeting.
  • Wifi on the plane - use it! I secured 7 meetings alone just by saying "en route to Etail West - connect?" as my subject line on emails and InMails. It's relevant. It's present. It's timely. Do it!
  • At the actual show, make sure you're present on Twitter (follow me - @lindseyboggs), LinkedIn, SnapChat (follow me - lindseyboggs13) and following the trade show's hashtags. One of my best successes in 2015 was following a trade show's hashtag and seeing that one of my prospects was posting about being there. I ended up sending him a tweet about connecting, and he accepted - and 3 months later, a deal was closed.



I'm a big fan of giveaways, large and small. Let's break them up into two different categories depending on your company's budget:


Smaller budget ideas:

  • Starbucks gift cards, Amazon gift cards, tumblers, etc. A popular thing I have done is cut a Starbucks gift card in half, and mail half of the card with a handwritten note to a prospect, saying that if they'll connect with you at the show you'll give them the other half. I had a 60% return on that initiative. It's creative, it's fun, and it works.
  • Virtual coffee. I'll ask a prospect to connect over the phone with a 'virtual coffee' before a trade show and when they accept, I'll e-gift them a $10 Starbucks gift card. This way, they know about our business before they get to the show and they're not walking into our booth cold.

Bigger budget ideas:

  • Apple products, FitBits, Kindles, GoPros, etc. These items definitely take up more of your budget, but if it drives a huge ROI (which, in my experience it has), it's worth it. A common question I receive a lot is "what if they just come for the item?", to which, my answer is "there will be people that do, but in my experience 75% or more have legitimate next steps after the meeting".
  • Another thing you can do in order for the prospect to receive the big ticket item is set up a pre-discovery call prior to the show. Ask the prospect for 20 minutes before the show, and then ask them to come to your booth/suite to connect further and retrieve their gift. This has worked very well in my experience; it's much better to have the prospect know a little bit about your offerings versus having no exposure.

Regardless of having a small or large budget, giveaways always help. It helps secure a meeting and helps break the ice as well.


Successful messaging:


Here's some exact InMails and Emails I've sent that have worked incredibly well in securing a meeting at a trade show:

The key always is to be personal. You'll hear me say that always, and here's some very popular articles of mine that helps with InMail return rates and one that helps with successful cadence setting.

Closing for the confirmed meeting:

  • Make a calendar invitation immediately after the prospect agrees to connect at the show. Make sure it is in the right time zone. I've made the mistake before of completely screwing up my entire calendar because of time zone issues. Pro tip: put the actual time IN the subject line for further clarification. Example: "10:30a PST: XYZ Person / Lindsey Boggs connect".
  • Be crystal clear where you're meeting for the location on the calendar invitation.
  • Don't forget to add your cell phone number in the body of the calendar invitation, and also ask your prospect for their cell should someone get lost and not be able to find your location.

Closing for Next Steps post-trade show meeting:

  • Get a next step defined on the calendar before you part ways. The worst thing you can do throw away all that effort and not define next steps on the calendar. Sometimes, it's not a fit in which no next steps are needed, but for those with legitimate next steps, get it on the calendar. Immediately. As in, right there, pull out your computer or phone and send the next calendar invitation.
  • Mingle. I love getting to know the people I've connected with at trade shows at the dinner and party events. People buy from people they like, and what better way to make lasting relationships than taking the time to attend the dinners and events. 

For the full video on all of these tactics click here. I answer several questions from the audience as well. 

My next free interactive webinar will be taking place on March 22nd where I'll be covering Successful InMail and Email Cadences and How to Measure Success in your CRM. Click here to sign up for the next webinar and stay in the know!


Fun section:


LinkedIn made all of the following connections possible: these are people I've met with virtually or prospected that finally got to connect with at Etail West. Some of them even prospected me :-)

Pictured: Scott McRory, Steve Lamb, Ed Cleary, Debbie Hauss, Shilo Jones, Cris Dow, Michael Osborne, Barry Clark, George Moser, Sean Harvey, Jason Waldron, and Rob Juhlin!


Always happy to answer questions - reach out to me or leave commentary below. I hope this was helpful in everyone's upcoming trade show initiatives!

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