Souvenirs from CeBIT: 6 steps to success in trade shows

Trade shows and big industry events are valuable venues for entrepreneurs. You pitch your offering to hundreds of potential clients, partners, members of the press and investors. You make deals, get coverage, and find funding – but, most of all, you learn.

However, there’s a lot you can do to get the most out of those few grandiose moments you spend with all those potential leads flying at you. Here’s a short recap of what our team learned during the awesome week at CeBIT, CODE_n– things that every entrepreneur taking his/her idea to trade shows should think about.

1. Prepare: do your research!

Take the time to check out who you want to meet. Write them down. Make a list, so you can easily tick them off one by one. Contact the key people in advance.

2. Get the press

Press is a big deal. But the thing is that everyone with a press pass gets flooded with “our product will change the world – you should write about us” pitches, so you need to be fast. On days one and two, the press center is the place to be. Make sure you have something to give them (press releases etc.). The more copy-pasting they can do, the better the chances of you becoming a story.

Also: do something crazy, something that makes a good headline – translating Obama’s tweets into Spanish, for example, is a good start.

3. Make them notice you

How will you make your booth stand out from the 10.000 other booths? Though the German organizers were ridiculously strict, giving a definitive “no no no” response to our crazy ideas for decorations, we got plenty of good feedback on our booth.

Make people pay attention. Make them smile! If you run into creator’s block, simply Google up some ideas.

4. Catch those leads walking past you

There’ll be plenty of visitors with whom you won’t have time to chat. What do you want them to do? A box with a sign saying “Drop your business card here. We’ll get in touch, and add you to our competition to win an iPad” might work. Perfect targets for newletters, and mass-follow-ups.

5. Have your own internet connection

Wireless NEVER works at big trade shows like CeBIT. So in order to make sure you’re visible in the social media (yes, it’s a big deal nowadays), it’s good to have a back-up connection.

6. Have fun and make friends

Five days of pitching your idea again and again and again is tough. Remember to have fun, laugh, and enjoy a beer or two every now and then – it will ultimately lead to far better results as well!


In addition to these valuable lessons, our souvenirs included a couple of roll-ups, a stack of approx. 300 biz cards, and of course the CODE_n TOP 10 award. Nicht schlecht!