Using Twitter effectively can give you an advantage when it comes to trade shows and making the most of networking opportunities, it has been claimed.

Janette Speyer, a partner at Hot Ice Media, believes the micro-blogging service is an extremely powerful tool - particularly for tracking and communicating.

But in an article for Business 2 Community, she claimed that many companies are missing opportunities to use Twitter effectively.

"Twitter is my platform of choice for all conference communications. I take advantage of the feed hashtag to follow show-related information and updates," Ms Speyer explained.

She claimed that, in the run-up to trade shows, the site offers a "golden opportunity" to network with exhibitors and other attendees, and generate potential leads.

So how exactly can business people use Twitter more effectively for trade shows?

Ms Speyer offered a number of tips, including following the trade show hashtag - a simple action that can provide much greater visibility for any company.

She explained that most trade show organisers showcase their Twitter feed on their website. "Observe activity, communicate with potential clients and invite people to visit your booth. Follow the show organisers and re-tweet their posts," she urged.

Ms Speyer claimed that sharing comments and tweets will make other business owners appreciate your outreach efforts.

And in response, they will do the same for your posts, helping to increase your own coverage on social media.

Next, Ms Speyer urged business people to engage in show conversations, by following them on Twitter and even leading them where appropriate.

This makes it easier to define your target audience and identify the motives of your potential customers, she claimed.

"For example, if the show or conference I am attending is about food, I will discuss food topics," Ms Speyer told the news provider.

Another suggestion is to reach out to members of the press via Twitter. This could be journalists working for local newspapers and magazines, and also bloggers who produce articles online.

"Invite them to the booth by offering them a welcome gift," Ms Speyer suggested.

"Most bloggers, press and media are on the show feed. Tweet them a message and ask if they are attending the show."

Twitter can also be used to promote trade show booths directly, by tweeting about planned activities to interested parties.

Ms Speyer said it may be worth offering free goods or services, running a contest, or organising some other promotional stunt.

Then Twitter can be used to spread the word, tell people about what is going on, and get them along to your booth. Once people are in your immediate vicinity, there is a chance you may be able to convert leads into revenue-generating opportunities.