Do you get the most out of the trade show’s you attend? Do you leave satisfied? Are you inspired? Have you met at LEAST one person via networking that you feel like you can collaborate with at some point?
If the answer is ‘No’ then we have some work to do.
Trade shows, when chosen correctly, are an opportunity for you to gain valuable trade show experience, knowledge, product exposure and trends, they can help spark your creative and can align you with like-minded professionals. “When chosen correctly” being key. You can’t expect to meet an apple at an orange fair… catch my drift?
Choose trade shows that are relevant in your industry. Local trade shows are great to connect with vendors (and potential clients) in your area, but if you have to travel for a well-known show (and have it in your budget) then do your research and consider the advantages- if any. You need to choose trade shows that will help you reach your business goals! If your goal is more sales? Choose a show that will feature new products for you to offer! If your goal is to scope out the competition? Do your research and make sure they are attending. If you simply want to network? Choose a show that is offering seminars and breakout room speakers. Like anything in business, do your research and make sure it fits.
So you know what show(s) you want to attend but don’t know how to make the most of them? Here are some tips to help you out:
- You will get updates on the show. You should also follow the show using their social media outlets to stay up to date.
- You might even save a few bucks if you’re an early bird
Have an objective for attending
- What do you want to achieve?
- How will you measure the return on your investment?
Bring business cards
- You would be surprised how easily that is overlooked
Take other people’s business cards
- Make notes on them. Bring a fine point sharpie to write the notes on the cards because some people still feel the need to gloss both sides and your regular pen won’t write on it. No your pen isn’t broken… it just can’t write on gloss.
Know who is exhibiting and plan out who you want to spend the most time with and start with them.
- If the show starts at 10am? Be there at 10am. Fashionably late doesn’t work very well when you want to absorb their morning enthusiasm. Also make sure that the vendors don’t work by appointment- if they do? Then make one in advance.
- Download a map of the trade show floor- it should be found on their site
- Think of what you want to ask who- having your questions prepared in advance will ensure you don’t miss anything
- Even though you are going in with a hit-list? Don’t forget about the little guys. Startups can surprise you and their hunger can’t usually be matched by corporate. They need your business and (sometimes- I don’t want to say always and you hold me to it!) they will work hard to keep it.
If you are attending with colleagues
- Split up to gain more ground and fill each other in. This also goes for seminars. Spilt the sessions and gather as much information as you can.
- Don’t be a “free seminar” snob. Take advantage of them. Just because YOU THINK you know everything there is on a subject? Chances are you don’t and will learn at least one new thing.
If you are attending a multi-day trade show
- Book close to the venue. You will appreciate the ability to move back and forth easily- whether it is to rest, review and recoup? Or to simply unload information. Maybe you don’t want to lug around every piece of info with you all day.
Remember that trade shows aren’t open 24 hours.
- Use your time wisely- even if it’s spread out over a couple days- use your time wisely.
Don’t avoid eye contact.
- You will see what I mean- every exhibitor is waiting for the second your eyes meet to pounce their pitch on you… Don’t be afraid. You may THINK you don’t want to talk to the exhibitor, but a quick conversation could lead to anything. It’s a small world after all.
Don’t rush out when the trade show ends
- Perhaps there is a networking event you can attend? Usually there is a mixer following the show… whether or not it’s public? I don’t know. But ask.
Last but not least, remember to stay open minded and enjoy yourself! You will be more approachable and absorb more information if you are relaxed and stress free.
Seems like a lot of work? Well, it is if you do it right.