13 Strategies for Trade Show Follow-Up Emails (With Example)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated November 22, 2022 | Published June 1, 2021

Updated November 22, 2022

Published June 1, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

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Trade shows allow you to connect with potential clients or customers, partners and influencers in your industry. Like any other networking opportunity, it's important to follow up with everyone you meet to start building strong professional relationships that could turn into increased sales for your product or service. Understanding strategies you can use to follow up after a trade show can help you develop your professional skills and network with knowledgeable specialists in your industry.

In this article, we review what a trade show is, explain why it's important to follow up afterward, offer strategies you can use to follow up effectively and provide an example.

What is a trade show?

A trade show is an event where members of a particular industry come together to demonstrate new products or services and share industry updates and advances. Trade shows involve product, service or case study presentations from organizations, booths where organizations can hold small presentations and demo the product or service with interested attendees and seminars and panels where attendees can interact with company representatives.

Organizations send individuals or small groups of representatives to display products or services, attend competitor presentations and connect with leads. Both individuals and organizations who aren't presenting any company assets often attend to search for new products and services for their organization, connect with potential partnerships and search for employment or investment opportunities. Many trade shows take place in large convention centers over multiple days, especially if the industry is in-demand or growing and the companies showing at the trade show are popular or new.

Related: 10 Types of Networking Events That Are Worth Your Time

Why is it important to follow up after a trade show?

Following up with connections after a trade show can help you:

Secure potential leads

If you meet people who have an interest in trying your product or service, following up with them after a trade show can help you solidify your connection and guide them through the marketing or sales funnel to becoming a customer. This is especially important for organizations that rely on generating new customers, rather than relying on new ones. Securing potential leads can also generate more organic flow to an organization as the potential leads share information about the organization.

Related: What Are Sales Leads? Definition and Examples

Increase your professional network

Even if someone isn't interested in your product or service, connecting with them after the trade show can help you expand your professional network and gain access to other leaders and colleagues in the industry who are interested. Also, becoming professional connections with industry colleagues and leaders can often help you find new opportunities in the future. For example, you may find a better job, learn about information quickly and develop best practices through your relationship with industry leaders and colleagues.

Make a good impression

When you follow up with someone after a trade show, you get another chance to make a good impression with them. You can thank them for their time, compliment their presentation and express interest in getting to know them further as an industry colleague. This can help you build relationships with other industry employees and generate interest in your products.

Represent organizations in a positive way

You're typically a representative of an organization even if you're just attending and not demonstrating a product or service. By following up with people you meet, you can show professional courtesy and friendliness that can leave a good impression of the organization with these connections. Both of these help you generate leads and develop positive professional relationships.

Related: Marketing Qualified Lead vs. Sales Qualified Lead vs. Sales Accepted Lead: What's the Difference?

13 strategies for your trade show follow-up

Here are some strategies you can implement for effective trade show follow-ups, whether you're communicating via email or another method:

1. Create a trade show-specific follow-up campaign

Before going to the trade show, outline each phase of email communication for every person you meet. Here's an example:

  • Email 1: This is the initial message you send within the first two days after meeting them at the event. Include an image of you and other team members at the booth to help them recall who you are, thank them for visiting the booth or speaking with you at the trade show and consider giving them a special offer for visiting the booth.

  • Email 2: Schedule this email for one to three days after the first email. Include a clear CTA, such as inviting them to take a survey about their experience at your booth, watching a video about the company and product or service or signing up for a virtual workshop or event.

  • Email 3: This email is scheduled three to four days after the second email. Include another CTA to get them to visit your website or complete a demo of your product or service.

Related: Q&A: What Is Email Marketing?

2. Prioritize your leads

Leads fall into the following categories:

  • Cold: Reach out to them at least within the first two or three days after meeting them at the event. The sooner you reach out, the more likely it is they remember you and recall the conversation you had.

  • Warm: Send an email within the first two days, and consider also calling them after sending the email to try to reach them sooner.

  • Hot: You can often send these leads to the sales team or through to the later stages of the marketing funnel to further solidify the relationship before beginning negotiations.

When creating your follow-up strategy, personalize each stage of communication based on what kind of lead they are. This can help you dedicate more time to the people who are most likely to want your products, services or partnership while maintaining and building relationships with those who aren't interested or ready to move onto the next steps.

Related: How To Write Email Follow-Ups (With Template and Example)

3. Swap business cards

Bring business cards to the trade show so you can swap contact information with industry colleagues and leaders you meet. This allows you to invite others to connect with you and enables you to reach out to them as well. These are an excellent way to start a conversation with your industry colleagues and leaders, creating opportunities for development.

Related: Inbound vs. Outbound Leads: What's the Difference?

4. Ask them their preferences for following up

When you swap business cards, consider asking them if they have a preference for email over a phone call. This information can help you determine the most effective way to connect with them. This question is also a professional courtesy that allows people to set communication boundaries with new connections as they need.

5. Invite them to join your mailing list

A mailing list is a collection of emails from prospective leads or other interested parties. When you meet people at your booth, consider asking them to fill out an information form that adds them to an email list.

Emphasize that signing up for this list means they can get regular updates on product or service offerings, specials, discounts and other events or content from the organization's blog. This strategy helps you demonstrate the value of signing up, which is often more effective than just asking them to sign up.

Related: How To Create an Email List in 4 Steps

6. Message them via a professional networking platform

You can message them via a professional networking platform the day of or after you meet them. Consider asking to add them as a connection and expressing how much you enjoyed speaking with them. This option also allows you to grow your professional network through social media.

7. Follow them on relevant social media channels

If you have downtime at the event, consider adding them on traditional social media platforms to find what content they're posting about the event and begin engaging with them and their other followers. This can help you connect with other industry colleagues at the trade show, learn about more organizations and develop practices to learn about customers you want for the organization. Social media is a major part of networking in many industries.

Related: 8 Steps To Improve Your Networking With Social Media

8. Send an email

In many cases, emails are acceptable forms of follow-up communication, and many people often prefer to receive an email over a phone call. Send a follow-up email within the first two days after meeting them. Doing so within this time frame increases the chances that they remember you.

In your email, remind them how you met at the trade show and include a specific reference to the conversation you had to help them better recall you. For example, you might reference a discussion about a recent industry trend and thank them for their insight or share a resource related to the conversation. Personalizing your email follow-up demonstrates your genuine interest in getting to know them.

Related: How To Write a Networking Follow-Up Email (Plus 5 Samples)

9. Give them a call

At the event, you can add really interested leads, known as hot leads, to a call list. Then give that list to the sales team or begin reaching out to them on your own as soon as possible. You can even pair a call to a lead with an email from you, letting them know you passed their information on to sales and they can expect a call from the team to get started on the next steps.

You personalize calls for hot leads, pulling from any and all interactions previously had, including whether they acted upon the calls to action in the previous emails.

10. Publish content that reports on the trade show event

If the organization has a blog, consider writing up an article or a series of posts about the trade show event. You can report on the presentations, how successful your booth was and the important takeaways you gained from attending. Even if the organization doesn't have a blog, you can still publish these articles through shorter posts on professional networking platforms or your social media pages.

After you post the blogs, you can include a link to a post in a follow-up email or as part of your newsletter that you send to those who signed up for your email list. The information you include in your blogs can provide your new connections with additional insight and your perspective on the event, which helps establish more personalized relationships.

Related: 55 Subject Lines for Networking Emails

11. Guide leads through the marketing funnel

Create a lead-nurturing campaign that continues to make meaningful contact with prospective customers until they're ready to purchase. Place hot and warm leads on a communication path with individualized emails that encourage them to take the next steps, like demo the product or service. As they take each new step, they progress through the funnel, and you can track where each connection is at any time and brainstorm ways to move them along the funnel more efficiently.

12. Maintain connections with non-customers

Those who don't fit your target customer profile or wouldn't benefit from your product or service can still be great resources for the organization through future partnerships or just informing people about a brand. Add another segment to your marketing funnel that motivates and informs these connections. That way, when you and your team find an opportunity these connections might be suited for, they're still familiar with the organization, which can save you time when trying to move them to the next steps.

13. Use an email or message template

Create a customizable framework for each email message you plan to send people you've met at the trade show, like in the follow-up email campaign you developed. This strategy can guide you in creating concise and relevant messages, helping you more efficiently reach out to all of your contacts. Also, having a template provides you guidelines on the important segments of the message, like content about the event and a call to action, so you're more likely to include all the important information anytime you send an email.

Follow-up email example

Below is an example of a follow-up email for a trade show:

Hello Amitra Whitmore,

It was nice meeting you at the Women in Tech Trade Show in Seattle last week. I enjoyed learning about your interest in fringe technologies and upcoming advancements. 

You're likely busy getting back into your daily routine, so I'm happy to reach out again in two weeks to discuss South Orland Tech's research and development findings so you can remain up to date.

Best regards,

Rochelle McLaurin

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