You need to attend your industry tradeshows to keep up with current trends and find out what your competitors are doing. At least two a year is a good number to keep you abreast of things. But how can you make this an enjoyable and profitable experience? What if your time is limited, and you’ll never get to see everything? Here are some ideas to make the most of the time you have:
- Decide in advance what you really want to get out of the show. Is it finding new products or new suppliers, or is it visiting with current suppliers?
- Study the advance show guide and make a list of must-see booths. Put them in order of importance and list their aisle locations.
- Make a secondary list of booths that you’d like to visit if you have any extra time.
- If you find that there’s just too much to see in the time you have available, consider bringing a staff member to split the load.
- Study the floor layout so you know where all your must-see booths are located and how to get to them easily.
- Try to figure out the amount of time that you can allot to each booth and still have time for the others you’ll need to visit.
- Sign up early for any seminars and presentations you want to attend to avoid sell-outs.
- Always preregister for the show and receive your badge in the mail before you go. This will keep you from standing in long lines, especially on the first day.
- Wear comfortable shoes. There’s a lot of walking and standing at a tradeshow.
- If a booth you want to visit is very crowded, and there’s no one available to talk to, consider coming back later. Booths are least crowded at the end of a show day.
- Contact your top two or three exhibitors in advance and let them know that you’re coming and what you’re looking for.
- If you’re getting pressed for time, let exhibitors know you need only basic information now, and you can get more details after the show.
- Take only a minimum of information with you and have exhibitors send additional literature and samples after the show.
- Have a lot of business cards with you and hand them out freely to everyone you have an interest in.
- Have a pen handy to make notes in the show program or on business cards you’ve picked up.
- When seated at a table in the concession area, network with the other people around you.
- If you stop by a booth and find you have no interest in it, move along quickly.
- Make appointments with those special exhibitors you saw for more information after the show.
There’s an old adage that says to prepare a plan and then work your plan, which is what you need to effectively attend a tradeshow. You should always come out of a show with many more moneymaking ideas than you had before you attended. This is where industry leaders meet for ideas and to share knowledge. Be part of the action; don’t just sit on the sidelines.