How to Get Unsocial at a Trade Show

Posted on by Tim Parry

UnsocialHaving trouble reaching out to prospects at trade shows? There’s an app for that. Or an app that can help you do that. If you have an iPhone or an Android… for now.

The best demo I saw yesterday at the Mobile Shopping Summit in New York City was done by Kiran Modak at Unsocial, a start-up social media app that helps people connect at trade shows.

Here’s how it works: You download the app for your device while you’re at a show, and it allows you to network with others at the event. If you’re a LinkedIn (and who isn’t these days?), you can connect via your account.

There’s privacy controls built in, too. Like, just because a potential client is at the same conference as you doesn’t mean you can communicate with him or her without permission. So there’s no chance a stranger with a trade show booth is going to ping you all day until you come by to find out about its goods and services.

There’s other benefits, too: If you’re running the trade show, you can have your info and extras loaded to a conference site. So in this case, Mobile Shopping Summit has its agenda, speaker info, twitter feed and polls available for Unsocial users.

Right now Unsocial is in Beta, and it’s only up in New York and Atlanta. And those with Blackberrys are out of the loop (as are people like me with a Symbian-based operating system, though Modak offered to let me use a different phone for the day). But let’s cut Unsocial some slack, as it’s still learning what its potential users use to communicate.

I like the concept of Unsocial, and I hope to get a new PDA soon just to give it a whirl. I understand how hard it is to make a connection at a trade show. If I want to make a connection with, say, a catalog marketer, and I have no idea who anyone in the room is, I have to sidle up to groups of people and see what’s on their name badge. Then of course I don’t want to interrupt their conversation, because that would be rude, so I have to make that connection when that person is alone. Kind of creepy.

Being able to find a prospect, let he or she know I’m at the show, and ask about meeting for a quick chat, is valuable.

Modak’s approach to get my attention was great. Instead of taking a pushy approach, Modak saw my green “press” tag on my name badge, and made a simple introduction. He asked if I had a few minutes to talk, told me about the product, and then asked to make a connection (in this case, via a business card).

Kinda like he would have done if he was trying to connect with me via Unsocial.


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