What we Learned from the Edinburgh Business Show 2024

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Business networking events. We’ve all done our time manning stands, handing out countless business cards, being sick and congested for days afterwards due to shaking hands with as many people as you possibly can. Are they worth it? Is it a waste of time? Who knows. We came back from our first event of the year with loads of business cards and brochures but only time will tell how many make good on offers.

The thing to remember is that many times these events are about far more than just securing sales. They’re a great opportunity for meeting local businesses and hearing about the issues they face, they’re great for hearing from some excellent speakers in the space, and finally they’re great for getting loads of free pens, biscuits, cake and coffee!

Without further ado let’s look at 5 things we learned from attending the Edinburgh Business Show:

  1. Is all the guff really necessary?

When you first enter a show like this, you instantly notice tables absolutely laden with goody bags, sweets and marketing materials. Our approach to this show was different. We only brought with us a handful of leaflets, some lollies and a few boxes of tunnocks tea cakes (other tea cakes are available.)

When we started setting up our table for the day we felt a slight panic. Our neighbours at the event had a mountain of expensive looking goody bags, mouse pads, pens, chocolates, info packs and much more.

Imagine our surprise when we noticed very few people actually stopping to talk with the sales reps. People were much happier to grab the free stuff and leave! Don’t get us wrong it’s nice to have things to give away, but for an event of this size we felt it was much better to have our staff actually talk to people and not distract them with the usual nonsense. From foot traffic to our respective stands, the only difference seemed to be the amount of money spent on materials.

If you’re at a larger event and need to make more of an impression and impact immediately then maybe you can consider paying for sheathes of materials and things to hand out to people, but for smaller scale events like the Edinburgh Business Show, it’s far better to focus on what you are offering and how your team can present that offer to passers by.


  1. Don’t be afraid of fellow venders

With many of these events, prospects among the attendees can be few and far between. Many are simply there to stock up on free stuff or alternatively are there to advertise their own business without having paid for a stand.

If this is clearly the case, you should always make it a point to network with your fellow venders. Especially if you are in different industries. Go over and ask them about their business and you just might find there’s a way you can help each other out.

  1. Preparation is key

While this didn’t happen to us, it’s worth taking note that a lack of preparation can be a day killer at events like this. One of our neighbouring stalls had an absolute nightmare on the day, having showed up with their laptop and nothing else. No signage displaying what their business was, no material to hand out and just one person to man the stall all day.

Always ensure you’re equipped for these events and it’s always a good idea to bring along a colleague so you have someone to speak to prospects while you take a wander around or go for your lunch.

  1. Don’t skip the speakers

Oftentimes the speakers at these events are the main draw for people. Even if some of the topics you already believe yourself to be an expert in, it can be useful to attend and get a different perspective. We’ve found that the quality differs massively from show to show and even from speaker to speaker, however it can be a welcome break from standing at the stand, and there are always at least a few lessons to be learned.


  1. Scotland believes Joe Biden will flounder in the upcoming US election.

Bit of a random one to end on, but our tactic to make collecting business cards a bit more exciting was to employ two glass jars with photos of Trump or Biden. We then asked attendees to “cast their vote” for who they believed would win using their business card.

Our findings: 90% believe trump will win. Take from that what you will!



So there you have our 5 learnings from the event. Should you attend any events in the future and see us there, don’t hesitate to come and say hello!