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Friday, May 24, 2013

Diversity Trade Show Connections: follow-up with your fingers after being on your feet!

Attending an industry trade show can be a networking extravaganza or a great excuse to buy new, comfortable shoes. Either way you look at it, how your follow-up on the information you gather there is really what matters.

Recently, DIR attended the 14th annual SADBOC "Small and Disadvantaged Business Opportunity Council" Procurement Fair in Brooklyn Center, MN. (Trivia! Former MN Governor was the Mayor of Brooklyn Park, MN not Brooklyn Center, MN.) SADBOC was sponsored by the Federal Executive Board’s Small and Disadvantaged Business Opportunity Council, in cooperation with MN-PTAC (Minnesota Procurement Technical Assistance Center) and the U.S. Small Business Administration. Some thoughts on following-up are below.

After making notes on business cards (please don't have a business card that is either too dark to write on, too full of pictures and/or words to write on, or too glossy to write on) at the show, organizing cards for follow-up is a good 'first step' back in the office.

  • Who needs a personal email?
  • Who needs a follow-up phone call?
  • Who wanted information 'snail mailed' to them?
Don't have much to say other than your company introduction? Try asking some professional questions.
  • Any opinion on professional organizations that would be useful for me to check into?
  • Any thoughts on another trade show to attend?
  • If your organization can't use our services right now, do you have a recommendation of a peer who could?
Keep your notes and messages short, but relevant. Make your subject line exact. "SADBOC 2013 follow-up from DIR" is what we used.

DIR also looks at the brochures we gather as general information to share with the world (i.e. this Blog). Below, we note like-minded organizations with a brief recap. Do your audience a favor and provide up-to-date links as well as acronym definitions. 

While at SADBOC, DIR met new and reintroduced ourselves to established like-minded organizations. For diverse suppliers, these organizations act as advocates. Get involved!

DIR's follow-up with these groups is straightforward and supportive:

  • Do you have DIR resources in your offices? If not, may I drop them off for you to share with your constituents?
  • How can we continue to help each other keep suppliers and corporations aware of resources?

Sure, in some ways we, as advocacy organizations, compete for the same information, but more often than not, our resources are complimentary. We all serve diverse businesses and we all want to see greater economic success evolve.

Enjoy re- and new introductions at trade shows, but don't forget to continue the efforts while you're "off your feet" back in the office. If you have a favorite 'follow-up,' please share it in the comments section. Thanks! 

P.S. To see DIR's photos of SADBOC 2013, check out our Facebook photo album