How to source business suppliers at trade fairs

Trade fairs are a tried-and-tested way of finding business suppliers. Initially trade fairs can help you inspect product lines and build supplier relationships. There are numerous regular trade fairs around the country so it's important to plan ahead and target trade fairs where you know you'll be able to do business. This guide shows you how to make the most of trade fairs in three easy steps.

  • Choosing the right trade fair
  • Planning your visit
  • Networking tips

Choosing the right trade fair

If some trade fairs sound too niche or specialist, then you are unlikely to find the right suppliers for the products you want to source. Work out what you want to achieve from the fair before you go, such as the type of suppliers you want to meet. Get a list of companies exhibiting before you go. If you are attending an international trade fair, try and visit the country first to get a feel for the location and the local suppliers.

  • Find out who is exhibiting - does the list match your requirements?
  • Contact specific venues to find out what is on in your area

Plan your visit

Trade fairs give you access to products and suppliers under one roof and although sizes vary, they'll always be plenty of suppliers to look at. Decide your objectives from the outset - such as finding three suppliers or testing a certain number or products. Arm yourself with a guide, spend time checking out the stands and make a note of those that interest you which you can revisit for further information.

  • Make a list of what you want to achieve from your visit
  • Compare and test products and services and always ask questions

Networking tips

Trade fairs provide plenty of opportunities to network with suppliers and will give your business exposure.  Pick up as many business cards as you and tap into suppliers' expertise and guidance. Have your contact details to hand as it will save time filling in forms - a company letterhead or business card will do.

  • If you are interested in particular suppliers, get their contact details
  • Networking will offer you guidance as well as help you build industry contacts

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