Rob Salisbury CSP shares tips and insights on making the most of your visit when attending your industry or client expositions and tradeshows. We are a society of consumers. All things being equal, each of us have personal and professional interests that motivate us. In an era of high tech and low touch, we are consuming products, services and information at an exponential rate.
The good news is this process can shape progress to leverage time, earn more revenue in business, and help us as individuals in growing the companies we work with and in the sustainability of our own communities.
The bad news is that many business people have become so connected, that ‘click and view’ consumes the major portion of their productive days or evenings. Attending expositions or industry trade shows is an excellent way for you or your team to obtain new knowledge, meet industry experts and learn about leading edge developments with clients or trends in your own industry or trade.
Attending product shows and expos stimulates creativity by learning first hand new innovations and in the environment of conference venues, hotels or convention centres where low pressure to buy is encouraged and high value in learning is noted.
Know before you go:
Here are quick tips to ensure attending local or overseas events are successful.
• Plan ahead to take advantage of free or early bird fee reduced event rates: Many events are announced a year in advance with preferred rates or free VIP sessions for those that book early.
• Confirm your reservation or attendance with the organiser: By registering you will receive advance information and have your name badge awaiting you.
• Research: Review ahead of time the companies showcasing at their booth or the conference partners involved so you can make the most of your time at their booth or in meeting them versus wandering around.
• Learn & Meet: List who you want to see and any products or services you are interested in ahead of time. Find out in advance if there will be educational forums, seminars, breakout sessions, early bird breakfasts or lunches offered.
Attend on purpose:
• Arrange one to one meetings with managers or suppliers: Ask good open questions about what they are doing in their companies to make the most of their time at the trade show or expo.
• Arrive early: Avoid the crowds. Move through the site of the show quickly and see as many exhibitors as possible. Exhibitors are ready and willing to chat in the early hours of the first day.
• Content is King: Gather information and resources. Find out what new products and services are available to help grow your business or increase productivity, profitability and alliances in your profession.
• Network: Talk to show managers, association executives, seminar leaders, industry experts for awareness and perspectives on trends.
• Contact: Your badge may introduce you however a contact or business card will ensure (if you want) that you are contactable via e-mail or phone call.
After you go:
• Follow up: Contact those you meet or found of value. The expense of tradeshows and expos are always being judged by the vendors. They will continue to participate when they see a return on their investment.
• K.I.T: Keep in touch with tradeshow exhibitors or organisers. Let them know that you appreciated their efforts with an e-mail or phone call if relevant.
• Alliances: Where an opportunity presents itself, a strategic alliance or new agency or partnership can be a win win in you or your company’s future.
Summary: Make a date with yourself over a coffee or tea and note some of the main things you learned from attending the trade show or people you meet at the expo.
In an era of voice mail boxes, auto reply from those out of offices, in meetings or travelling, attending trade shows and expos can be an excellent way to leverage your time and power up your learning and earning curve.
Worst case scenario, you will get exercise from walking around for a few hours, engage your people skills by talking to decision makers as a consumer or potential buyer and you can do so in a low key sales environment.