Hannover Messe is not an industry- specific, sales-oriented show. In fact, sales of any kind are forbidden on the floor of the show, and breaking this rule will result in an unceremonious departure from the fairgrounds for the offender. Instead, Hannover Messe is about building international relationships. This is the soft side to business, but is as essential to international trade as Incoterms and exchange rates. Where American companies rely heavily on the bottom line and the unambiguous terms of a sales contract to determine the success of an interaction, many other cultures look to the relationship with the people within a company to set the value of the overall transaction. How do you judge the success of a trade show from which no sales were made? What does a company report to their employees or Board about why they attended, and invested a significant amount of money to do so?
As an example, Accelerant Technologies, an energy consulting company out of Genoa, Ohio, made a casual acquaintance on the first day of the show with someone in a neighboring booth from Turkey. That casual introduction lead to a polite exchange over Turkish coffee, dried figs and candy Buckeyes. The next day that acquaintance brought back someone else to meet with the company and learn more about Accelerant and the work they do. The next day Accelerant was meeting with a top government official tied into the energy sector in Turkey. How long do you imagine an exchange at that level would have taken if both parties hadn’t been at Hannover putting forth a good faith effort to get to know each other and whether or not there was potential for partnerships in the future? How many emails or calls routed through assistants would it have taken for such an exchange to occur if Accelerant had stayed in Northwest Ohio and not attended an international trade show? I would imagine that months of base-level communication was avoided by the simple act of extending a hand (albeit a hand holding a delicious chocolate Buckeye) and saying we’re here to learn and make new connections.