If you have ever been to a trade show, then you understand that it isn’t something you should jump into unprepared. Wearing inappropriate clothing, not packing the electronics or accessories could hinder your experience and prevent you from establishing a pivotal partnership opportunity. We have compiled a list of our top suggestions to attend any trade show to maximize the benefits.
You should always plan to register early. Nearly all trade shows offer early bird specials and most of the time it is a real price difference. If registration isn’t open when you first approach the trade event website, sign up on the mailing list to keep informed of opportunities to register early.
You registered for the trade show, great! Now double-check that you are on the mailing list and contact your point-of-contact to let them know of your interest to take part in more activities. Many trade events offer exclusive activities before a show and even during the trade event days to provide more networking time and a chance for you to learn more about the exhibitors. Seminars are always very popular among the veteran attendees, and for good reason. The information conveyed from a leading influencer during a trade show seminar is invaluable. Sign up and RSVP early for these opportunities as they tend to fill up very quickly.
Research. Research. Research.
The moment you register to attend any trade show, ask for a list of attendees/exhibitors and begin planning 15 – 30-minute meetings with potential targets. Veteran attendees know this trick is key to a successful networking opportunity. Reach out to schedule short meet-and-greet opportunities to make the all-important first impression. Keeping meetings under 30 minutes will allow you to maximize your time at the trade show while still providing enough time to introduce yourself, your brand and interest in working together. Be sure to print off a map of the trade show layout so you don’t accidentally schedule a meeting 5 minutes apart on opposite ends of the conference facility!
Once you have scheduled all of your meet-and-greets purchase a minimum of 100 additional business cards than the amount of meetings scheduled. If your first impression is over the moon, you may be introduced to other team members and will need business cards for those introductions. You will also find yourself meeting colleagues within your field and may wish to stay in touch for collaborations. You can never have too many business cards for a trade show! *As a side-note, use the extra space on business cards to write notes of the person or company. This is a great way to keep the information together in one place.
This can be tricky, especially if you are traveling to attend a trade show. Keep it business casual and comfortable. Trade shows are typically very large functions and require extensive walking. Find a pair of comfortable shoes and break them in ahead of time. Business casual will help with your first impressions while not being overdressed and uncomfortable… unless that is your everyday style.
If you are attending as press or media, you will need to bring along electronics to keep social media alive with information. Investing in a quality phone that can handle wi-fi and photography functions is a must. We also strongly urge you to pack a juice box. No, not the kind to sip on during the show! A juice box offers a backup charge for a variety of devices and has been a lifesaver for to Hospitality21 staff while traveling and attending trade shows. Be sure to ask if the facility offers wi-fi options which you can log into to save excess on wireless carrier fees.
Trade shows are held in large open spaces with forced heating and air. This combined with extensive walking can lead to quick dehydration resulting in fatigue. Pack a collapsible water bottle with you to refill at water stations. We don’t recommend bringing a full water bottle because it will get very heavy and can be obtrusive to carry while trying to shake hands during your meet-and-greets. Grab something like an Aquabod that is collapsible.
You registered early. You had just enough business cards for all of your meetings. You even had enough energy to take part in a few events after the show. Now it’s time to follow-up. Within the first week of the trade show, you should send personalized emails to your new connections thanking them for their time and re-introducing your brand. Just like you, they met hundreds of new faces and companies and can’t remember them all. Reiterate your idea of a partnership/collaboration and attach any other information that is beneficial for them to present to their team. Don’t delay the follow-up emails, remember, the early bird catches the worm!
What has been your trade show experience?