Creating Business Relationships

Creating Business Relationships: Why Exhibiting or Attending a Trade Show is Like Speed Dating

From the bountiful number of name tags to the occasional awkward handshake, there are many commonalities between attending a trade show and a speed dating party.

First Impressions Matter

You have only seven seconds to impress when you meet someone new.  

Whether you’re standing in a trade show booth or sitting at a coffee table with your first date of the evening, the short timeframe remains the same. First impressions are made very quickly and, during this tiny window of time, both verbal and nonverbal cues say a lot about the person you are meeting.

Maintain eye contact, firmly but politely shake your new acquaintance’s hand, and remember to smile.

Appearance isn’t everything but it is crucial to making a good first impression. At a trade show, there is a lot of pressure to have the right set-up because attracting people to your booth is important.  Just as you want to dress well and throw on some lipstick or a nice tie for a speed-dating party, you’ll want to make sure your booth is laid out neatly and your staff is well-trained for a trade show day.

Always be prepared to have the best possible conversations with your prospects.

Keep a handful of clever conversation starters in your pocket and ensure you have your lead capture application (like Captix) by your side to capture real, useful information from your conversations.  This prevents relying on the “scan and hope” strategy with new leads. Instead, you can use the custom lead form to drive the conversation further and then use real-time follow-up options to deliver useful and actionable response(s).

If you couple a great conversation with a perfectly practiced handshake, you’ll make an amazing first impression.

There are Lots of Fish in the Sea

Some believe there are many fish in the sea. Others believe there is only one soulmate out there for everyone.  

It’s the age old “Quality vs. Quantity” debate, which is particularly suited for both speed dating and trade shows. (Check out our Quality vs. Quantity article.)

At a busy trade show packed with potential buyers, you need to focus on selling your solution to the right people. Should you spend your time furiously scanning badges and gathering leads left and right? Or should you zone in on a few key targets and try to build relationships with them?

Ideally, you can have the best of both worlds by balancing these options.  

The right lead capture software will allow you the best of both worlds, effortlessly scanning leads with plenty of time to create conversation and focus on filling your MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead) quota.

Helpful hint: Watch out for the biggest fish in the sea who makes you an offer you can’t refuse (also known as the “Codfather”).

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Following Up is Key

You go on the best date of your life.  You meet the person of your dreams.  You scratched down your phone number on a napkin and have been waiting anxiously by the phone every night for days, but you still haven’t heard anything!  Did they lose your number?! *Sigh* Another potential bright future lost. Might as well move along to the next best option.

Do NOT let this catastrophe happen after your next trade show!  

Insure your team against experiencing this nightmare by acquiring a dependable lead retrieval system that scans a lead’s badge, and then sends their information straight to Salesforce so your company can follow up in a timely manner. It’s best to pick a company with a specialized team who will customize their product to you and offer real-time support if you need it. If you use a system like Captix, you can choose to send your business prospects a customized email immediately after the show. You can even invite them to follow-up events like happy hours or luncheons.

The options for follow-up are infinite but doing it in a timely manner make all the difference.


Social media is widely present in the dating scene these days. Twitter and Facebook are full of images of couples tweeting at each other or posting a picture together. In the same way, social media can be a huge asset to your trade show business scene as a way to keep in touch with leads you meet.

Follow your contacts’ business accounts on Twitter and make sure you use the event hashtag if there is one. It’s a great way to keep in touch and share topics of common interest.

Creating a Relationship is the Goal

Relationships that spawn from a structured dating service are much more likely to end in long-lasting commitment than the relationships of average people who are not going out of their way to look for something serious.

That’s because people who go to dating events are looking to find a relationship. Similarly, business people who go to trade shows are looking to create business relationships.

Buyers want to spend their money on the best solutions available that will deliver true value for their organizations! Sellers want to sell the best solutions out there so that they make more money!

In the end, everyone wins.

Speed Dating Meme