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Tips for Networking at the Expo

Blog 5_1The Mid-America Restaurant Expo attracts over 4,000 attendees and more than 300 exhibitors each year. That's a lot of potential exposure for your business. That’s why we’re sharing a few simple tips to help you make the most of your experience to build new relationships that take you to the next level.  

As an Exhibitor 

If you’re attending the expo as an exhibitor, you'll likely be spending the majority of your time at your own booth promoting your business. Here's how to do it right: 

  • DO take the time to talk to each person that stops by your booth, even if it is just to say a quick "hello." You never know who you’ll meet that could help your business in the future. 
  • DON'T focus solely on how others can help you. Networking is all about building relationships with those within your industry. Try to find ways to work together that would be beneficial for both of your businesses, and there’s always an opportunity to learn something new.
  • DO offer branded promotional items and giveaways (i.e. pens, key rings, magnets, etc.) that help attendees remember your brand long after the MAREXPO is over. A particular attendee might not be ready to with you right now, but that doesn't mean they won't in the future. Seeing your brand on a regular basis will keep your business top of mind. 

As an Attendee 

If you’re not exhibiting at the MAREXPO, you'll be free to roam around and check out the exhibitors. Here's how to maximize your time: 

  • DO have a plan for how you'll make your way through the Expo. Identify your top priorities and make sure to visit those booths first so you don't miss out. 
  • DON'T wait in a long line to speak with a particular exhibitor. This is wasting valuable time that you could be using to network elsewhere. Check back later when they are less busy (after lunch might be the best time!)
  • DO speak up. It is not enough to simply stop by a booth and pick up a free keychain or sample hummus. Take the time to actually chat with the exhibitors to build a relationship. You never know what you’ll learn!
  • Bonus Tip: Check out the trending #MAREXPO hashtag on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see what other attendees are up to. Use the same hashtag to post your own selfie from in front of the banner, use #MAREXPO Snapchat Geofilter,  or livestream the keynote speech from Chef Michael Symon!

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For Everyone 

These tips apply to both exhibitors and attendees: 

  • DO make time to see the keynote speaker, Chef Michael Symon. This can alert you to current trends in the restaurant and foodservice industry, as well as get you excited about collaborating with other businesses. 
  • DO bring plenty of business cards. Any time you speak with someone about the possibility of working together in the future, give them your business card and be theirs as well. It’s helpful to make short notations on the back of the cards to remind you who the person was and what you talked about. 
  • DO follow up. Within a few weeks of the MAREXPO, get in touch with everyone who gave you a business card. Remind them who you are, how you met and how the two of you could work together. 

Connect @ the Expo

Still looking for more opportunities to network and talk to industry peers and professionals? You won't want to miss out on the new for 2018, Connect @ the Expo event! This event will take place on Monday the 29th in the morning and will offer an opportunity to discuss industry related hot topics with fellow industry experts and professionals that can offer helpful advice. You may even be able to share some of your own best practices!

This networking event is free with your admission and includes a pre-show breakfast (did we mention there will be cinnamon buns?). Stop by, make connections, get questions answered and fill up with a delicious breakfast before the rush of the day begins!

Time is running out to sign up for the Mid-America Restaurant Expo, so get your tickets today


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“What a great day at the Mid-America Restaurant Expo ! Thank you to the Ohio Restaurant Association  for hosting a great show with wonderful speakers. Together we are all stronger!” - Short North Piece of Cake 

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