Going to a dog show or pet exhibition is the perfect time to build and grow your network of valuable contacts. Pet food brands, dog chew manufacturers as well as pet insurances and breeders will be present and available for a casual chat that can become fruitful if you handle it well.
Yet, too many of us just go to the pet show so petrified that even when they connect with the right people, that relationship fades away as fast as it came to life.
Here are great tips for your to get the best contacts at any kind of pet shows you will attend in the future.
#1 — Get Your Elevator Pitch Right
How are you going to introduce yourself to each person you will bump into? Obviously, you don’t want to make it lengthy as these events are often busy. But surely, you want to say enough to get the person interested.
This is exactly why you need to keep it short, informative enough but not too much so your interlocutor gets hooked and wants to follow up over the next days.
The elevator’s pitch does just that. While preparing the outline, just remember that you must be able to tell it all within the time it takes to travel a couple of floors in an elevator.
#2 — Speak To The Key People Ahead Of The Event
Most events from Crufts to your local dog shows will have on their website a list of the pet companies attending. Start by getting a full list and then decide on a shortlist depending on the profile of brands, people and influencers you want to engage with.
Ok, now that you have a shortlist of who you want to converse with, you must be smart and find a more personal contact.
To get full names, email the companies asking for who from their team will be there. Equipped with the full names you then have several options to consider.
If you have an executive’s email you can introduce yourself in one line and “look forward to meeting them at the event” and perhaps even set a formal meeting.
For a more casual introduction, you can simply tweet them. Twitter is much better and a lot less stalkerish than Instagram or Facebook in our situation.
#3 — Set a Realistic Target
The day before the event, once you know exactly how many people you are interested in, you can do one last task. Set yourself realistic expectations, preferably numbered.
Of course, you already know some people you absolutely want to meet. But hey, the joy of going to such events is to let the serendipity do its own job!
Now, it could be three long conversation per hours, two exchanges of mobile numbers in the morning, or any other metrics. As long as you do have figures to guide yourself through your day, you will be able to speed up or slow down the cadence.
#4 — Keep Your Head Up (And Make Eye Contact)
At the event itself, you need to switch your phone to silent mode and focus on what is going on around you. You will see, people smile at you, greet you, or ignore you. But you cannot NOT be aware of these little happenings.
Activate your email out of office auto responder and keep your head up. It’s time to get your smile out and your eyes scanning through the crowd.
Obviously, if someone smiles, smile back. If someone looks at you and doesn’t smile, smile first. Have a beer or a shot of Vodka first if it allows you to let loose.
A tip within a tip: don’t waste time with sales-oriented people. Unless you end up buying from them, you will squeeze very little juice from them.
#5 — Follow-Up With Each Contact You Made
First things first, discreetly note with each contact something special that they were wearing or they told you. It could be anything that is 1) appropriate and 2) memorable.
That way, when you drop them a message the next day, you can personalize it and not send a dry “glad meeting you.”
“Hi Steve, it was great meeting you yesterday at Crufts! I looked it up and I love that new leash we were talking about. Great idea!”
Regardless of what motivates you, be consistent with your follow-ups and don’t just message the next day, do it as often as possible without being a weirdo.
Social medias are awesome for staying on top of someone’s mind without being pushy or harassing. Add them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn as soon as you can.
#6 — Give, Give, Give, Then Ask
A simple and universal concept that was analyzed and fully explained in Gary Vaynerchuk’s book — Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.
When you meet somebody, personally or professionally, you can’t just ask people to do you a favour or to help you out in any way, shape or form. Well technically you can but the success rate is close to null.
Over the first few interactions, show each person that you truly care about their endeavors. Don’t do it backhandedly, be honest and open about it. Yes, you also have endeavors but in order to build that relationship, you want to assist them in theirs, first.
Be friendly and open. Be interesting as much as interested.
However, you must remain focused and never forget why you attend an event, and who you must engage with.
Also, pets are awesome ice-breakers and they come with unlimited anecdotes to share. Whether you speak about cat food, dog breeding or pet insurance, there’s always a good dog story to throw in there.
And if you feel a little overwhelmed, the targets you have set yourself will keep you in check throughout your day!