Corporations exhibit at EXPO to extend their brand recognition in the area of supplier diversity. As an MBE it is important that you approach EXPO with the right expectations. Defining what is a “win” is key to how you spend time on the tradeshow floor.
Most experienced MBEs would tell you that the tradeshow floor (whether in person or virtually) is NOT the time to tell your company story, but to entice the corporate representatives to want to know more through your elevator pitch. HMSDC’s Supplier Idol Program can assist in honing a concise and interesting business capability pitch. Trade shows are typically fast-paced, and in a virtual setting you may have 2-3 minutes of undivided attention of a corporate representative. Whether connecting through “chats” or “video” learn how to focus on the most powerful thing you can say in 30 seconds. In many cases, your elevator pitch is your full pitch.
EXPO is a great place to gain industry insight directly from the source. Spend some of your time asking about their sourcing strategy, priorities and pain points relative to your business services. The best way to generate interest is to show interest. You won’t sell anything unless they’re interested in what you do. Stop between booth visits to write down follow-up action items while it is fresh in your mind. Jot down any unique insights you learned about the person or company that can be referenced in your follow up email to jog their memory, making yourself memorable.
Generating new business leads to sell your products and/or services is the ultimate goal. Visit the HMSDC EXPO website at and establish a list of prioritized target companies and government agencies to visit. Focus on quality. Not every person attending the conference is equally useful for your business. Know with whom you want to invest time by classifying your corporate/government agency targets into three categories: High, Medium, and Low. You increase your probability for success by ensuring you connect with those companies most likely to buy your products or utilize your services.
1. Get motivated.
Attend the keynote addresses to get energized by the story of others who are impacting the minority business development. Get motivated by the progress and success of entrepreneurs and business leaders who are blazing the trail and finding new ways to grow MBEs.
2. Attend the BizTalk Session.
Houston’s largest industries are contracting, transforming and reemerging to prepare for an economic rebound in late 2021-2022. The events of 2020 changed so much of what we took for granted. Businesses must now look ahead with focus and a desire to help potential customers solve their challenges on their own terms. Learn how our key industries are restructuring and where opportunities exist for MBEs in tomorrow’s supply chains.
3. Get Comfortable.
You will be online for an extended period of time. Don’t forget you are still seeking to make a positive first impression – they are lasting. Studies show that your first impression has a high correlation with the actual long-term status of your relationships. Treat each person you talk virtually as you would in person at a booth. You never know where your next customer will come from.
4. Be Prepared.
Virtual tradeshows have made the need for a strong capability statement a business imperative. Take a few minutes to highlight your tradeshow targets by highlighting your 3 target groups in different colors, it will make it easy to navigate the limited time of the virtual tradeshow.
5.Treat Appointments Like Appointments.
If you are scheduled for One-to-One Sessions at EXPO, set alarms in your phone or calendar to remind you of your appointments. Track all of the questions that you were asked and summarize the answers to them for everyone on your team.
6.Simplify Virtual Business Cards.
Ensure that you complete your EXPO profile completely as exhibitors will get a downloaded file of all registered attendees. This will assist with your exhibitor follow up, so taking time to ensure your profile tells your story is important.
7. Do a Post-Mortem
At the end of the day, before you jet off to next thing, sit down, take a breath and talk about what went right, what went wrong and what you need to do better next day/time.