The Hinirch Foundation once again joined the Global Sources Gifts & Home trade show at the AsiaWorld-Expo, Hong Kong, on April 18-21, 2017, featuring unique and handcrafted products from emerging economies in Asia. As a first-time participant of the show, I found the experience both exciting and educational. Here are three key takeaways from my first trade show experience:

1. Know your products and audience.

Exhibitors must know the attributes and unique selling propositions of their products. Whether buyers are sourcing for specific items or looking for business opportunities, they always ask about product features, price and minimum order quantity. Paying attention to these details definitely helps in engaging potential buyers and presenting a product’s value.

3 takeaways from my first trade show experience 1Hinrich Foundation team members and scholars at the Global Sources Gifts & Home trade show.

2. Opportunities abound for SMEs to grow their markets.

Building visibility, establishing credibility and generating sales are among the purposes of trade shows. Exhibiting products in a trade show, however, is only one aspect of product promotion.

For products to be displayed at the New Markets Pavilion, for example, Hinrich Foundation’s export consultants dedicated a great amount of time and effort to find unique and quality products that can be exported.

As we responded to buyers’ questions, the Hinrich Foundation team members and scholars did not just relay product information but also gained a better understanding of the various industries, specific market needs and new business opportunities. We can then pass on the information to the Export Assistance Program beneficiaries which can use this to improve their business processes and grow their markets.

3. Trade shows offer an avenue to develop essential professional and life skills.

Strong communication and customer service skills are essential competencies that trade show exhibitors need in order to effectively deliver promote their businesses and products not only to prospective buyers but to other trade show participants such as business consultants, product developers and the media.

During the show, I learned that to effectively engage buyers, I needed to ask the right question, which often meant asking an open-ended one. In addition, I needed to listen attentively so I could respond appropriately.

Communicating the value of a company and its products also meant being creative. During the show, we had to set up the booths in such a way that the products stand out. Posts on social media to share the latest happenings to a wider audience – the digital world – also had to be attention-grabbing.

Despite the long hours that we were required to be on our feet, I am glad to have had the opportunity to work with various Hinrich Foundation team members and scholars and learn more about how the Export Assistance Program helps SMEs take part in international and sustainable trade.

About the author – Mary Ann Docuyanan

Mary Ann Docuyanan

Mary Ann is the programs coordinator of Hinrich Foundation. Based in Metro Manila, she assists in the implementation of projects related to Trade Scholarship & Careers and the Export Trade Assistance programs. Her interest in entrepreneurship as a tool for social and economic development drives her to contribute more fully to the goals of the organization in promoting sustainable global trade.