Preparing for a trade show, convention or conference? I’m betting that LinkedIn isn’t very high on your to-do list. Here’s the thing, though. You can use LinkedIn effectively to amp up your sales-related activity at these events, to the point where you’ll be much more likely to secure conversations that can add to you or your company’s bottom line.

If you want to be really successful, it’s going to take some work. But if you use LinkedIn and some social-selling strategies successfully, you may be able to chop some of the other items you have to do from your list. In fact, you may swap out many of those items in favor of LinkedIn-related activity. (LinkedIn and social selling won’t help you with packing and unpacking of all of the materials and even trade-show booths you may have to take with you. Sorry about that.)

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Want to learn more about using LinkedIn and social selling for sales success at trade shows and conventions? Sign up for our Webinar on Thursday, March 28th at 2:00 PM EDT. We’ll discuss this article and show you some solid, time-tested tips and strategies so you’ll secure more sales-oriented conversations as the result of your hard work at these events. Seats are limited so sign up… today! Can’t make it, but want to learn more? No worries — sign up anyway and you’ll receive access to the recorded version.

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Before the Event

Many people think that prepping for an event is little more than choosing clothes, packing your devices and chargers, and making sure you have business cards and brochures at the ready. When you use LinkedIn and social selling, though, you’re likely to have business meetings set up. Here are some activities you’ll want to undertake before the show or conference:

  • Reach out to current connections, to see if they’ll be there. If so, ask them to meet while you’re there. If you know the person very well, ask them if they know of anyone you’d be interested in meeting and see if they’ll help you get meetings with them.
  • Find out if your prospects will be there by using LinkedIn’s company pages and searching for 2nd-degree connections. Then request a meeting with them in your connection request to them.
  • Share content relevant to the event. This way, you’ll build your reputation as a thought leader and subject-matter expert in your field prior to a show or conference where that kind of exposure can do wonders for you.

You’ll also want to research to see if the show has any formal hashtags they’ll be using, You can include these in the content you’ll be sharing before, during, and after the event.  

During the Event

Now that you’ve got some meetings set, you can expand your presence even further while you’re there:

  • Share insights. Whether it’s a session you attended, a great conversation you had with someone, or just photos of an event, post these as shares to LinkedIn. Using hashtags here is crucial, as this is how others you’re not directly connected to can find you. And when you share insights, you’ll once again prove you’re the thought leader and subject-matter expert in your field.
  • Breaking news. Oftentimes, companies will use trade shows and conferences for product and service launches. Share those on your feed with hashtags and your insight as to why a particular launch is important.

If you’re not yet on Twitter, you may want to sign up for an account and use those hashtags and photos on that platform during your show. After all, not everyone is on LinkedIn. Plus, attendees are more likely to be checking Twitter than LinkedIn during a show, as it’s seen as more “timely.” If you’re taking a lot of photos during the event, you may even want to sign up for (and share on) Instagram. Use the same hashtags as you’re using on LinkedIn and Twitter. 

After the Event

At this point, you’ve likely got people to follow up with and contact. Besides direct follow-ups with those with whom you had meetings, you’ll want to (all on LinkedIn):

  • Ask to connect with new contacts, being sure to refer to the show/conference you met at when you customize your connection request. If they don’t accept, then follow them.
  • Re-engage with your 1st-degree connections who may have went, but you didn’t get to meet with them.
  • Share post-event articles, being sure to use any relevant hashtags. If you’re on Twitter, share these there as well. You can tag connections/followers in these as well. 

Calendaring is Important

You may even want to set up a calendar for your pre-, during-, and after-event activities. With the cadences we’ve devised for clients in the past, we recommend about two to 2.5 weeks of pre-event activities, then 1.5 to 2 weeks of post-event actions. When you take into account the time of the actual event, that’s a little more than a month commitment. Since a conference or trade show can be a major business generator, though, your time spent will definitely be well worth it.

By following these strategies (and especially combining those with our upcoming Webinar), you’ll see many more sales conversations as a result. After all, that’s why you’re going to these events… right?