Attending a trade show can be both exciting and terrifying. Booths as far as the eye can see and not enough time to visit them all. For newcomers to trade shows it can be completely overwhelming. But, when it comes to big events like this, planning is key. So here are a few things to remember to help you make the most out of the trade show you attend.
Tip #1 – Set appointments
Sometimes vendors only see attendees by appointment. If you know one of the vendors you want to see does this, make sure to set the appointment as early as you possibly can. That way, you can make sure you see the vendor and you’ll be able to see them when you want to.
Tip #2 – Know where you’re going
Always make sure you know where the vendors you want to see are. Just about every trade show offers a map and directory of its vendors. Download this ahead of time so you can plan your route and capitalize on the limited amount of time that you have.
Tip #3 – Make a schedule
As the title suggests, you should plan out your time for what you want to do during the trade show. This includes, keeping track of your appointments with certain vendors, and how much time you’re going to be spending at each booth. Also, you should schedule your time for after the trade show as well. This way you can keep track of which vendor you’re going to be meeting up with later for networking over drinks or dinner after the show.
Tip #4 – Do your homework
Make sure you do your homework before and during the trade show. What we mean by homework is researching the vendors that you want to talk with at the show. This way when you see them, you’re already knowledgeable about the products they offer, and can ask some more in depth questions of the reps at the show. During the show, this means going over your notes with your colleagues about different vendors and can even mean putting together purchase orders to take advantage of discounted trade show pricing.
Tip #5 – Make a Checklist
Always, always, always make a checklist when attending a trade show. This way, you know exactly which vendors you want to see and it helps make sure you don’t miss any events that you want to visit during the show. Make sure to refer back to your checklist once a day during the show to keep you on target with your schedule. Also, you should review your checklist at the end of every day of the trade show in case you need to re-evaluate priorities or re-schedule an appointment due to an event popping up that you want or need to go to.
Tip #6 – Pack extra
It’s never a bad idea to make sure that you bring extra clothes with you for the trade show. Instead of doing laundry in the hotel, bringing extra clothes makes sure that you are always looking your best. Additionally, make sure you bring shoes that are comfortable and have really good support, you’re going to be walking a lot, the last thing you want is sore feet for the whole show.
Tip #7 – Stand out
What we mean by this last tip is be confident! Dress professionally and sharp, and always smile. This will make you stand out from the crowd as studies have shown that people remember an interaction with someone who smiled. Also, make sure to wear your name tag on your right shoulder, so that when you lean in to shake their hand they will see your name very easily. Also, don’t forget to exchange business cards and follow up once the show is done.
Yes, trade shows can be a stressful whirlwind of a couple of days. But, if you follow these tips you will stay organized and be able to make your next trade show attendance a resounding success!
Garth Gaetz is the owner of New World Case, Inc. Connect with him on Google+.