It’s October. Work schedules are starting to wind down, and many of you will be attending trade shows – be it the big GIE+EXPO show in Louisville, Kentucky, this month, or any of the regional shows planned throughout the country this season.
Trade shows can be tricky: They can be incredibly valuable or a colossal waste of time. The trick is knowing how to get the most out of any show you’re planning to attend. Lake Placid, New York, author Susan Friedmann bills herself as the “Tradeshow Coach” and works with companies to help them get the most out of attending and exhibiting at shows.
If you’re attending a show, Friedmann says, you need to have a plan. That means doing some legwork before you leave home. Read promotional materials on the show and use that information to draw up a list of “must see” and “want to see” booths and mark their locations on a map of the show floor. Use the Internet to research the companies you’re interested in so you’ll be familiar with their products and have useful questions to ask once you’re in the booth.
If you’re with co-workers, consider splitting up. There is a strong argument for having someone with you to talk to and compare notes on products and services. On the other hand, by separating, you can cover more ground and spend more quality time visiting booths that are important to your company.
Finally, this may sound obvious, but plan for a long day on your feet when you’re packing your suitcase. This includes taking comfortable shoes and clothes, plenty of business cards, a notepad and carry-all bag for the materials you collect. And don’t feel like you need to take every brochure or trinket offered to you. If your bag is getting heavy, ask if the vendor will mail any literature to your home or business. Most will be glad to do so.