Trade shows and expos are so interesting. Going to a trade show for the industry that you work in is the equivalent of a comic book fan going to Comic Con- it’s a big deal. Trade shows are a unique opportunity to be surrounded by professionals and other individuals in your field. It’s usually the first opportunity to see the latest products available for your jobs. It’s also a chance to have conversations where you don’t have to explain what you do because it’s common knowledge. Trade shows are also a fantastic opportunity to make connections, find that product that will take your business to the next level, and of course, compete with your colleagues for who can find the best giveaways. All of this requires some level of strategic planning of course. The following tips are designed to help you make the most of your trade show experience.
- Make sure you’re attending the right show. Do research and figure out all the major shows that happen in a year. Read some websites. What companies are going to be there? Are any of them potential licensees? Cross-reference your list of potential licensees with the list of attendees. Don’t forget logistics! How far away is the show? What are hotel prices like? Be sure to check if the show has a room block at the nearest hotel(s) in order to get the best pricing!
- Save yourself time in advance by registering online so that you don’t have to stand in line for 8 years when you arrive. Most shows have scan-and-go kiosks that allows you to print your badge quickly and get to the exhibits faster!
- Make. A. Plan. Download the show’s floorplan, attendee list, anything else that will help you get organized. Let’s face it, we all underestimate how big the show floor is going to be so save your feet and time by planning your route!
- Bring business cards! You never know who you are going to run into- you may find a booth you weren’t planning on stopping by or even a new company that turns out to have an amazing product. These shows are a major opportunity for networking, so make sure you have a way to receive follow-up info. You can always drop your extras into the prize drawings that many booths do.
- Be patient. If there are crowds at a booth that probably means that they are a business worth speaking to. Maybe Dan the Pancake Man is at their booth. Wait it out, because chances are you aren’t going to make it back to this booth no matter how many times you tell yourself you will…
- Don’t be a wallflower! Approach the reps at a booth with good questions pertaining to their business. Be engaging- a conversation should be an exchange, so don’t just stand there and expect them to do all the work.
- Check the daily schedule, whether it be the show’s website, social media page, or app to make sure that you’re taking advantage of guest speakers, workshops, or even some of the fun events throughout the run of the show.
- Speaking of guest speakers, be sure to catch as many presentations as you can- they’re a great opportunity to hear from experts on the latest industry trends and techniques.
- Take advantage of show specials. If an exhibitor stands out to you as having a product that would be useful for your business or if you know of a product that you would want to purchase, always be sure to find out if they have any show specials. Taking advantage of discounted rates is a great way to experience new products for the first time.
Following these guidelines will help you maximize time and efficiency in order to take advantage of all that trade shows have to offer. Now, go forth and conquer trade show season!