Trade shows and conventions are a great way to make connections, educate yourself, and arm yourself with information about the latest products on the market. But don’t let your time and money go to waste! In order to get the most out of these events, you have to be equipped with a plan. Consider our top tips for How to Get the Most out of Trade Shows and Conventions.
Determine Which Shows to Attend
Trade shows, conventions, and conferences are typically planned one year in advance, giving you plenty of time to determine which shows you want to attend. Register in advance and you may be able to save on your registration fees. Make sure to do your homework before registering as some shows are very specific as to who may attend.
Plan and Prioritize
You can cover a lot of ground during a trade show so it’s important to come prepared. Dress professionally, but just as important you need to be comfortable with shoes you can walk in all day. Also have plenty of business cards and water on hand at all times. You never know who you may meet at a moment’s notice. Trade shows and conventions are often more than just a collection of booths; there are opportunities for networking, educational sessions, industry expert speakers, indoor and outdoor exhibits, and demos. Create a strategic plan for the days you will be attending so you don’t miss out on these impressive opportunities presented at each show.
Identify Who You Want to Meet
The National Association of Home Builders, host of the annual NAHB International Builders’ Show, suggests individuals “Identify who you need to meet with, seek out and/or get in front of while you are there. This can range from meeting with a business mentor or colleague to seeking out a potentially new business partnership. Think about talking with a few product reps that can help you solve a problem, or design professionals that you admire, to see if there is any synergy in working together.” Avoid booths that are packed, wait until the second day of the shows and you will be more likely to get in touch with the right person.
You’re bound to come out of a trade show with a collection of business cards, don’t let these contacts slip by! Organize your contacts into a spreadsheet and sort into hot and cold leads. Wait until at least 1-2 weeks after the trade show and get in touch with these new contacts and opportunities and track your progress with these new connections.
Trade shows offer a myriad of educational and networking opportunities. That being said these shows can be hard work, you have to be on the ball to generate leads and contacts, and remember that the work only just begins when the event ends.