Trade Show Time Management
By Vince Thompson
shows can be one of the most effective tools for relationship
building and information gathering in the business world today.
However, given the travel often required, crowds and staggering
array of choice they can often be overwhelming. Before you know it
the shows coming to and end while you may be delighted with some of
your finds there’s often the feeling that something got missed.
Fear not. Here are some simple suggestions to maximize your
experience and leave you with the confidence that you conquered all
that you set out to do.
Define your Goal: Have a clear goal and know what you'd like to
get accomplished. Are you looking for products, connections or
industry trends? All three? What matters most? By making sure your
goals and expectations are clearly laid out, you can maximize time
and efficiency when making the rounds at the show.
an Attack Plan: Review all attendee materials and if an
exhibitor map is not included, reach out to the organizing committee
and they'll likely share one as they have create it for booth
tenants. This'll help guide you in your quest to cover the floor.
It's also a great idea to build a relationship with the organizers
as you may find that they could use you as a panelist or make
introductions to people you'd like to meet.
out to Vendors and Prospects: Set a series of mini-meetings, in
advance, at defined times. Hotel lobbies or bars can serve you well
as a place to take up residence. You can always rent a suite but if
you're not right next to the conference that could affect your
success. Properly planned mini-meetings allow you to quickly develop
the bonds that you may need and stand out from the clutter of
business as usual when you re-engage these people in the months to
Cocktails and Dinners: Work around the scheduled events. Quite
often the rubber chicken, industry wide dinner fails to satisfy the
attendees. If the industry dinner is at 6:30, get a great table at a
hot restaurant at 8pm and invite a select few for a special dinner.
Make sure to do this in advance and use this time as chance to build
relationships and bond with others from around the country.
Leverage the Expertise of Your Vendors: Many leave it up to the
vendors to organize entertaining however vendors are entertaining
they're often selling. Use the time when you host to learn about
your competition, the best practices they see and the industry
trends. Listen deeply. Ask, "Who's doing this best?” "What's the
future hold?" and "What's keeping you up at night?" Build on these
relationships and you will find yourself ahead of the curve more
frequently than not.
Always Be In the Path of your Prospects: As the crowd arrives be
near the door and when the crowd leaves have your conversations near
the exit. You'll be surprised how many people you'll be able to
catch and reconnect with this way. If you want to meet a speaker on
the conference agenda get in their path before they speak. Often the
speaker sits in the front of the room talking to no one. Go
introduce yourself and let them know you're excited about their
speech. After they speak they are usually swarmed.
Advanced Networking: If the taxi line is huge, get a town car
and pull someone from the line who'll share the cost. You'll make a
new friend. Often, everyone is doing email in the lobby desperately
searching for a power source. Pack a power strip in your bag. Offer
to share juice with someone plugged in or invite others. Remember,
the conference doesn't begin and end at the show. When you land look
for people attending the show and if you can identify them offer to
share a ride. In the time after the show between arriving at your
airport gate and boarding, stroll the gates to see if people you
know are waiting at theirs. Everyone has a travel story to share.
right mindset and proper planning, it is easy to set yourself up for
success when visiting your next trade show. Stay focused, be
prepared and you will find that completing your trade show goals
isn’t as hard as you once thought it was.
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