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Going to trade shows, conferences, and seminars doesn’t just give you face time with potential clients – it can greatly improve the quality of your list of e-mail contacts.

These days most companies rise and fall based on the quality of their e-mail contact lists. Without a good list of contacts your marketing efforts may go nowhere. Attending a live event is a good e-mail marketing tactic. Here are some things to be sure to do when at an event to make the most out of your networking efforts.

Business Cards

Get out there and network. Most trade show have an element of excitement, and a way to mingle with other attendees. Take this opportunity to network, connect, and grab business cards. As you know, e-mail addresses are always on business cards. Enter them into your system after the event, and contact them right away.

Opt In Forms

Another good way to collect e-mail addresses at trade shows is to get passersby to stop and fill out an information sheet. You can often entice them to do so by offering an inexpensive premium with your company’s logo on it, something like a water bottle, a small thumb drive, or to enter into a drawing later in the day for something desirable like an iPhone, or dinner for two at a local restaurant.

One thing to remember – be forthright with your opt in form. Tell your prospect that they’ll be added to your mailing list and that they will be hearing from you or from someone at your company. Being honest about what you’re going to do with the information sends the message that you and your company are straight shooters who will always play fair with your customers.


Have an expert at your company that has notoriety? Secure an opportunity for them to speak at the event about an industry related topic. You’d be amazed how many leads can be filled out just simply by having some prospects within earshot.

Online Efforts

Don’t forget about internet marketing. Start pre-networking before the event on Facebook and Twitter, gather e-mail addresses as you build connections. On a somewhat related note, look at using Facebook ads to send traffic to an online opt in page.

No matter how you get these precious e-mail contacts from leads and potential clients, you need to act promptly on the information that you collect, or all of your hard work may wind up going for naught. So, once you’re back from the trade show, have your staff beginning entering the contact information you’ve collected into Excel spread sheets. Almost all of the e-mail marketing software available today will let you import data from Excel, so it’s the really the best choice out there for flexibility and ease of use.


Once you’ve entered their information into your marketing software, you can begin the process of turning a prospect into a paying customer. A good approach is to e-mail them within a week after the trade show. Don’t give them a hard sell right away, couch it in friendly terms, expressing the sentiment that it was nice meeting them and sharing ideas at the trade show.

Prime them for future contacts. But, don’t forget to include links to your company’s website in case they have some further questions. Wherever possible, make it seem like you’re offering them smart choices. Of course the underlying message in your communications with them should be that doing business with your firm is a smart choice. Harvesting e-mail addresses to bolster your e-mail marketing list shouldn’t be that difficult, if you handle it with taste, imagination, and good manners.

Do you use trade shows as an opportunity to boost your e-mail marketing lists?

About the Author: Vern is a freelance writer who attends many conferences and trade shows throughout the year, making sure to stop by the exhibit area to see the vendors whose trade show displays catch his eye.

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