Freelancers can benefit from taking part in business trade shows and exhibitions. There is surely no better way to increase your exposure to a specific section of your target market than through your attendance at an industry-specific trade show.
Done properly, the events can provide a wealth of opportunity–new contacts, new clients and most importantly: new income.
Freelancing can be difficult when you suddenly find that you don’t have enough work coming in. Trade shows are often an ideal solution to this problem.
One of the most important aspects of freelancing is marketing yourself and your services. There are many ways to do this, but in this post we’re going to look at one that is far too often overlooked.
Trade Shows–Worth the Effort?
Attending trade exhibitions might seem like an additional expense, but doing so will be more than worth it when you gain extra work and contacts because of the effort you put in. True, it takes up more time and resources than other marketing activities such as online adverts or direct mailing–and then there are the travel costs of actually getting there. But the rewards will more than make up for these minor one-off inconveniences. Who knows, you might even have a good time!
While promoting yourself online or via print contacting clients can turn into a relatively faceless activity. In contrast, showing up at an exhibition in person and presenting what you have to offer directly to your target audience gives you a chance to get some personality across. It gives you the opportunity to stand out from the faceless masses of other similar businesses online.
Online portfolios are useful for demonstrating your abilities to prospective clients, but being able to physically show them your work while answering any questions they may have on the spot is far more effective. Not only is it more memorable, but it also begins that all-important dialogue between you and the client, making them more likely to respond positively to future contact.
Speaking to prospective clients in person also makes it possible to tailor your approach. While they might look at an advert and dismiss it as ‘not for them,’ by speaking to them face to face you can pitch the strengths you have to offer that are most suited to their needs. You can also address any concerns they might have in utilizing your services.
Showcase Your Work
If you’re a freelancer working in a highly visual medium such as design or photography, banners can be incredibly effective in capturing the attention of prospective clients. You might use them to display a collage of your work, or even line up a number of large full-print banner stands to display your best work in all its glory.
The important thing here is that you’re getting up close and personal, setting out your pitch for the world (or at least the exhibition hall) to see.
Aside from attracting new clients, exhibiting your work can also be a massive confidence boost. It’s always encouraging to receive compliments and interest in your work, so an exhibition day can be a very fulfilling day for freelancers.
As well as the leads and opportunities you might gain by attending an exhibition, you may also come away with some fresh ideas for your business. Not only can you pick the brains of those whose business you seek, but you may also find inspiration from chatting to those who are exhibiting as well. Attending an exhibition can also be a much-needed chance for lone freelancers to socialize and network with like-minded people, build up valuable contacts and even form friendships.
Being a regular attendee of trade shows and exhibitions in your specialized field can help you build your reputation as a hardy freelancer with a broad knowledge of your industry. It can be worth it to mention your trade show attendance to current and potential clients. Your attendance at a high profile professional event should be flaunted at every possible opportunity. Use it as an opportunity to further your current relationships with your existing contacts.
Tip: Use your website to advertise your attendance and invite everyone to visit with clear directions to the event and to your individual booth.
An Opportunity to Learn
Trade shows also offer a perfect opportunity to learn. Learn from competitors, learn from your clients, learn from the experience. It’s an ideal way in which to observe what your competitors are doing right and what you’re doing wrong. Don’t be so foolhardy as to think you can’t learn something from other attendees.
You can also speak to your audience directly. There are few chances in business to find out what your clients really require from your services, but exhibitions offer that chance. Take advantage today or you might soon find it’s too late!
Have you participated in an industry-specific trade show?
Share your experience in the comments.