From Facebook to Pinterest, the range of available social media websites offers many different functions for professionals in the tradeshow industry. However, the problem with having so many choices is deciding which channel to use when connecting with others in the industry.
Facebook, for example, while offering most users a way to keep in touch with family and friends, offers professionals a very casual way to contact customers and clients. Both Twitter and Pinterest also offer companies a briefer and less intimate way of communicating with other users.
LinkedIn, on the other hand, provides professionals with a way of interacting without the restrictions of being too informal or too concise.
“It’s a social site for professionals,” said Melissa Skipworth, sales and marketing representative at Exhibit Fair International. “It’s usually a place where you won’t see what the other person had for lunch or what they think about the latest Jersey Shore episode. You find more professionals using LinkedIn than Facebook.”
In a Squidoo article titled “LinkedIn – Why you need to be on it”, the author, Chad Bordeaux, goes into great detail about LinkedIn and its many uses.
“Think back 10 years or 15 years and you will likely think of many people that you have simply lost contact with,” wrote Bordeaux. “Imagine if you had been able to keep your name in front of these people all of this time. Imagine how many solid contacts you would have in your business network if you had not lost contact with 90 percent of the people you work with.”
Bordeaux continues by listing many more reasons to have a LinkedIn account, including finding events and asking for job references.
For professionals in the tradeshow industry, where intimate business relationships are formed and harvested, these reasons ring especially true.
“You can use LinkedIn to easily stay on top of changes in your network,” said Dave Walens, president, Brumark. “If someone updates their title, for example, you can easily send them a congratulatory email and keep that personal connection going.”
Keeping up to date with competitors is another benefit to being on LinkedIn.
“It’s a great way to follow up with new contacts after networking events,” said Skipworth. “It serves as a valuable researching tool for market research and prospecting, and your competitors are on it, so you need to be there.”
But keeping up with competitors isn’t the only reason professionals love LinkedIn. It’s also a good source for lead generation, which is a top priority in the tradeshow industry.
“Our account managers actively add customers and prospects to their LinkedIn network, and encourage them to connect with the company as well,” said Walens. “We usually see a spike in connections after we participate in a tradeshow or event. Not everyone is on Facebook or Twitter, but most people in the industry have at least a personal LinkedIn account.”
Because of the value LinkedIn adds to professional relationships, many workers from all facets of the tradeshow industry have begun to include it in their social media planning.
“LinkedIn is a good exchange for industry know-how and international industry contacts,” said Horst Tondasch, founder of Coral Enterprises. “Overall, I find that it spreads my name as an expert, and people get back to me because of that.”
And although LinkedIn has been around for almost ten years, many users didn’t catch on to the site’s benefits until recently.
“We’ve seen an increase in the number of industry professionals on LinkedIn, as well as the number of new industry-related discussion groups,” said Walens. “There’s a lot of idea sharing going on, and we don’t want to miss out on that exchange.”