Trade shows offer a great opportunity to market your products and services, but they can also be a drain on the bank account. From the travel costs to entry fees to that impressive set of marketing materials you had printed up specifically for the big show, if you don’t generate leads, all that hard earned money will be wasted.

So before you book your trip and pack your bags, prepare yourself for a successful trade show venture by keeping these 5 helpful tips in mind.

1. Attend the right shows

How can you expect to walk away from a show with a treasure trove of leads if you attend the wrong type of event? Do your research prior to committing to a show. Ask yourself the following questions: Will my target demographic attend this show? Does my competition frequent this type of show? And will I generate enough leads to justify going to this event?

2. Attract targeted prospects to your booth

Don’t concern yourself with pleasing the masses, instead be ultra­strategic with your marketing materials – i.e. target the people who will be interested in your offerings. Yes you may have scores of people passing by your booth without stopping but if you do your homework, the right type of person will be interested in your presentation. Those who actually have a chance to become paying clients.

3. Speak at the event

Do you want a chance to show off your expertise? Then forget about just attending a show and instead become a major part of an event by speaking. What if speaking in front of big crowds is not really your cup of tea? Well if you want to become a major player you have to learn to face and eventually conquer that fear. Practice speaking in front of friends and family and take it a step further by joining a club like Toastmasters International.

4. Use social media

Tell the world that you are attending the big show, at least your followers on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Use your social media accounts to detail all of your plans including a sneak peek at possible giveaways, promotions and other cool happenings that will take place at your booth. And once the event begins don’t put down your tablet or smartphone, keep posting away. Upload plenty of pictures and express exuberance for the event. Your positive attitude will net you plenty of positive gains.

5. Use giveaways to ignite conversation

Bring along plenty of eye­catching promotional materials to giveaway to attendees. But don’t rely on them alone to draw interest in your company. Utilize your giveaway materials to spark conversations. Show interest in your clients by talking with them not just talking at them. A little friendliness will go a long way.