Why You Need to Attend Trade Events and how to Get the Most out of Them

Why You Need to Attend Trade Events and how to Get the Most out of Them

Nov. 9, 2020
Insights 6 min read

Most people you meet there are your colleagues who might have unusual solutions to your problems.

The original post at AIN.ua is available here.

WePlay! Esports Business Developer Valentyn Shevchenko talks about the advantages of trade events for a company and uses Gamescom 2019 as an example.

Gamescom 2019 is a game and interactive entertainment fair which took place in Cologne, Germany, between August 20 and August 24. Mr. Shevchenko explains why companies should attend trade events and how to get the most benefit from it.

Trade events help to build a reputation for your company

I used to work in the television industry and regularly attended MIPTV — a trade show which takes place in Cannes, France. The industry participants have been traveling there to meet with each other and learn something new for many years now. Quite seldom someone would go to the event with a purpose of closing a deal or doing another specific task.

A trade event is more of an excuse to get together, meet new people, put faces to some names, and learn from fellow industry professionals. Most people you meet there are your colleagues who might have unusual solutions to your problems.

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Attending a trade show fulfills two objectives:

A. Meeting new people.
B. Talking face to face with people you have only exchanged emails with.

Nowadays, people tend to neglect Face-2-Face Communication (F2F). Yet, it’s a powerful tool which allows you not only to make an impression on someone but also to establish a basic human contact. I find this to be one of the most substantial advantages of trade shows. F2F lets you understand what kind of person you are talking to and what he or she is interested in.

It’s easy to find someone’s contact on LinkedIn or Twitter and start a conversation. You could even check the person’s profile pictures and scroll through the feed to try and learn their interests. But even in that case, you won’t have a comprehensive and reliable image of who you are dealing with. The same thing happens the other way around — your image is vague to the person you are talking to.

Imagine you’ve been exchanging emails with a colleague from another company for a year. In your head, that person is a strict lady who writes “Hello” instead of “Hi” and often disagrees with your proposals. When you finally meet the real person, you realize that the initially conjured image was utterly wrong. A 20-minute conversation about business and the following 10-minute exchange about something else (common hobbies, a funny stand nearby, a local tradition, etc.) fills both of you with positive emotions. Subsequent email communication between you will become much more fruitful and satisfying.

The Gamescom 2019 experience

Gamescom is a classic trade event where businesses show off their new products and industry specialists have a great time with each other. People tend to be less serious and discuss whatever they like.

The WePlay! Esports team was aiming to find new potential partners there and meet representatives of the gaming market. We were provided with a comfortable space equipped with a big TV screen (it was playing our showreel on repeat all the time) and seats suitable for conversations.

I loved the way representatives of individual countries were located close to each other. For example, if I knew a certain game was made by a Swedish developer, I could go to the reception desk and ask where the Swedish zone was located. The premises had a lot of such zones, ranging from big gaming countries, such as China & Japan, to states less known for their video games, like Malta.

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Every big company was holding raffles at their stands. People could just come after 5 pm, play some games and win a prize. For me, one of the biggest highlights of the event was an immense line for the FIFA 2020 stand. I will also not forget retro consoles, reminiscing of the Sega Mega Drive times. The stand had huge gamepads with buttons half of my size.

Find a way to be noticed

Most of the time it’s straightforward — find the person you are interested in and introduce yourself.

When I saw someone I wanted to talk to I just approached them and said, “Hi, my name is Valentyn Shevchenko, I represent a tournament organizer and esportainment company called WePlay!. Are you available for a short conversation?” Since everyone is in the networking mode, there is nothing unusual in such a simplistic approach.

You aren’t necessarily able to directly talk to everyone. Prominent company representatives (those who are slow to respond via social media and emails) could be unavailable even if they are physically present in the building. At their stands, young administrators politely refuse to set up an appointment because you had to have a previous reservation. You try to drag them into a conversation, ask how those reservations are set, but just get stonewalled (“simply no way to help you, we’re sorry”).

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The only solution is to leave something behind, which could prompt contact in the future. You could give the administrator your business card (a long shot, but better than nothing) but there are ways to be better equipped for this scenario.

Shortly before the trip, I received a set of WePlay! Esports branded flash drives and recorded our presentations, showreel, and other promotional materials. While a business card would most likely get lost, a branded flash drive had the potential to spark interest in a person who receives it with a pile of paper.

Some company representatives got excited by our idea with flesh drives, and we have been discussing plans for possible collaboration with them.

Tips for people who visit a trade event for the first time

  • When you’ve just entered the event premises for the first time, don’t just rush to meet new people. Get a feeling of the place, walk from one side of the building to another, take a good look at the stands and people, mark the primary zones for yourself.
  • You’ll be walking a lot, make sure to wear comfortable shoes.
  • Don’t hesitate. It’s almost always better to initiate contact than to have regrets afterwards. Let’s say you see a company representative you are interested in; you are equipped with a business card, company presentation, and other promotional materials. Don’t lose your chance; approach the person and start talking. “Hi, I like your stand. Can you tell me more about your company?” Your task is to begin a conversation at any reasonable cost.
  • Don’t limit yourself by certain people or types of companies you are talking to. Look around and approach various stands. If you meet a supplier, service provider, or other industry players, nothing should be in your way of approaching, talking to employees and trading contacts. You never know what turns your business may take a year from now and what kind of people you will need to be in touch with.