Let’s face it; we’ve all attended trade shows and conferences without proper preparation. We’ve wandered down the aisles in a daze, carrying heavy bags filled with brochures and swag, and when we sort through the contents back at the office, wonder why we collected half of the stuff . Sound familiar? To optimize these opportunities, you need to approach tradeshow or conference attendance with the same due diligence that goes into planning a meeting or event.
TIPS FOR SUCCESS
- Register as early as possible, to receive your credentials in advance. By doing this, you’ll be able to avoid lengthy lines on show days, and gain access to plenty of additional information that’s typically only available to registered attendees.
- Study the layout of the trade-show/conference floor and make note of the location of the key suppliers you want to meet, in order to maximize the effectiveness of your time at the show.
- Book appointments with suppliers in advance.
- Leave room in your agenda to meet at least two new suppliers or demo two new products.
- Use social media to advertise your attendance at the show, to create networking opportunities.
- Don’t over-book yourself or run from one event to another. Suppliers are significantly invested in the show, so remember to be professional and respect their time as subject-ma er experts.
- Take advantage of the educational opportunities offered (even if you think you know it all, there is always something new to learn).
- Plan the time and location of all your lunch and coffee breaks well in advance.
- Plan on consuming low-carb snacks and meals, to avoid feeling sluggish and maintain your energy.
- Only RSVP to the events you will attend, should you be invited to a end supplier events around the show. Limit yourself to two per night and make sure to always pre-plan your ride home.
- Monitor your consumption of alcoholic beverages. Know your limit and always stay within it.
- Begin the day on a positive note. Get a full night’s sleep, eat a healthy breakfast and arrive early.
- Come prepared: Carry a lightweight bag/knapsack, notebook, pen and flash drive.
- Wear business-casual attire (remember, you’re representing your brand among industry peers).
- Wear comfortable shoes and always keep a second, lightweight pair of shoes in your bag.
- Carry bottled water, protein bar or fruit, band aids (in case you don’t wear comfortable shoes), hand sanitizer, mints and business cards.
- Ensure your business cards are easily accessible in a pocket or in the back of your name-badge holder.
- Have your PDA charged and on ‘vibrate’.
- Attend all scheduled appointments on time.
- Carry the show agenda and floorplan with you, along with a list of your scheduled appointments, as well as the suppliers you want to meet. Be sure to check them off as you go.
- Have suppliers send materials to your office. Accept gifts (‘swag’) from suppliers whose products you currently use or intend to use in the future.
- Take a break to sit, recharge, review your schedule.
- Network – introduce yourself to three new people.
- Complete the show survey and after the show, always remember to send out thank-you notes
SHOW DAY DON’TS
- Schedule back-to-back appointments
- Miss pre-arranged meetings
- Talk on your cell phone in an open location or when meeting with a supplier
- Interrupt suppliers when they’re meeting with another attendee
- Accept swag or gifts from exhibitors if you do not intend to use their product or service