How to Network Like a Pro at a Franchise Expo Event
For over three decades, MFV Expositions has been hosting and producing some of the largest and most well-attended franchise trade shows in the industry. Appealing to both a B2B and B2C audience, our annual series of franchise expos bring brands and entrepreneurial candidates face-to-face, where they can both contribute to the incredible growth rate of the franchising industry. Those wanting to explore business ownership of their own are exposed to hundreds of the top emerging franchise brands representing every industry and business sector. And franchisors earn access to first-rate venues to showcase their value propositions and key differentiators for their most desirable target audience.
Attending a franchise expo can be a fantastic opportunity for networking and building connections within the industry. In 2024, MFV Expositions has four trade shows in the works, as the tour will make stops in Los Angeles (April 12-13), New York City (May 30-June 1), Ft. Lauderdale (Sep. 6-7), and Austin (Nov. 15-16). Whether you’re a franchisor planning to exhibit, or an entrepreneur looking to investigate the industry’s top franchise opportunities, here’s how to network like a pro at a Franchise Expo event:
For Prospective Franchisees…
If you’ve already committed to exploring an entrepreneurial future, you’re likely to find happy hunting ground at any of the four regional Franchise Expos in 2024. If you’ve never before attended a trade show, here are some helpful tips you’ll need to know to get the most out of your experience:
- Preview the Show
You’ll definitely want to gather some pre-show intelligence, so it’s important to adopt a “know before you go” strategy. Each event on the MFV Expositions website includes detailed information on exhibitors, sponsors, and a helpful preview of the floorplan. If you’ve already got an idea of the type of franchise you’d like to own, make a plan to hit all of your targets ahead of time. Another item to preview are the scheduled workshops. Engaging in these sessions not only provides you with valuable knowledge, but also creates an additional opportunity to meet like-minded entrepreneurial candidates.
- Dress for Success and Be Prepared to Ask Questions
Just a helpful reminder that every conversation you have at one of our Franchise Expos should be considered a two-way job interview. You’ll be sizing up the franchise brands to determine if their business model is a fit for your preferences. At the same time, they’ll be sizing you up to determine if you’re a fit for their network of franchisees. Appearance counts, so make sure you dress for success. When you do seek out a conversation, be prepared to answer and ask questions with an approach that suggests a genuine interest in learning and understanding. Open-ended questions reveal your curiosity about their franchising model, the challenges they face, and what their vision of the future includes. Practice active listening when the franchisor responds, then work to find common ground to build upon.
- Plan Your Route and Work Your Plan
If you’ve previewed the floorplan, you should have a good idea of all the visits you’d like to secure. Depending on the number of franchisors you’ve targeted, budget your time accordingly for your meet and greets. Look people in the eye, project your voice, and do as much listening as talking. Never be rude or condescending if a brand doesn’t end up being a fit. Many of the brand’s trade show attendees are very familiar with one another – and you don’t want to risk getting a bad rap.
- Strategic Follow Up
Get business cards from everyone you speak with and jot down conversation notes for your post-event follow up. If you experience a particularly intriguing encounter with a franchisor and have established a successful connection, you could be well on your way to exploring an entrepreneurial future.
If your franchise brand has plans to exhibit at any of the four Franchise Expos in 2024, here is some helpful advice on getting the most return on your investment as an exhibitor and/or sponsor:
- Call in the Pros
The majority of franchise brands do well in selecting their executive leadership team. But the same care and attention should go into the planning that decides who will be your “face” at the Franchise Expo. It probably goes without saying, but you’ll want the most presentable, friendly, and gregarious individuals on the front lines to work their lead generation magic.
- Get Creative With Your Space
Attending a Franchise Expo is an investment. And as a brand, you’ll want that investment to pay off. Be sure to design a clean, captivating space that offers plenty of space for collateral materials and casual visiting. You can view lots of previous floorplan setups on the MFV Expositions website, as well as photos which depict intriguing booth spaces. Brand videos that play on loop can be a big advantage for the walk-through traffic.
- Practice Makes Perfect
It takes skill, practice, and repetition to master face-to-face conversations. Make sure your trade show team is well-versed in communicating your brand’s value proposition and the key differentiators that help you stand out among the competition. Remember – lead generation is the lifeblood of your franchise brand and pre-show training sessions for your staff can go a long way towards helping you have a successful trade show event.
When it comes to providing franchisors and would-be franchisees alike with a quality environment to discuss business ownership, experience counts. That’s why MFV Expositions has been an industry leader for over 32 years. At the heart of it all is our continual desire to foster a true sense of community for the attendees of our Franchise Expos.
Master the art of networking at franchise expos for invaluable industry connections. Expand your network and seize franchising opportunities with expertise at the largest Franchise Expos hosted by MFV Expositions nationwide. Prepare, engage authentically, follow up strategically, attend workshops and seminars, and visit our website to find an expo nearby.