Stress Free Success at Your Next Trade Show

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Trade fairs and shows can be very rewarding, profitable and down-right fun, if you know what to do, and how to go about doing it.
If not, they can be overwhelming and costly, to you and your firm.
Before you register for that next trade show, here are some tips to help you negotiate the ins and outs, experience the ups without the downs, and enjoy yourself in general.
Know the Competition: Most trade show organizers, whether the sponsoring industry or the convention center where the trade show will be held, provides attendees with a list of exhibitors.
It may be in the form of a web page, or it may come in your registration information packet.
Whatever form it takes, study it carefully before you get to the trade show.
Determine your purpose in attending this trade show.
If there are a lot of old names and faces, you may decide to spend your time at the show cementing those existing relationships with clients, customers or suppliers.
If there are more up-and-coming or new-to-you exhibitors, you might want to spend your time at the trade show networking, getting your name out there.
Or you may decide that its time to see what is new and trendy, what the new kids on the block have to offer.
If the exhibitors are a mixed bag, then you will have to decide just who would be the most profitable to spend time with on the trade show floor.
Make a Plan of Action: You have studied the exhibitors and know just who you want to see and why.
Now, its time to create a schedule or plan that ensures you will fulfill your goal for the trade show.
If you will be mostly cementing those long term relationships, you may want to allow yourself plenty of time for doing just that - hanging out at their booths, chatting and catching up.
Schedule long appointments, or schedule your appointments far apart, so you do not have to feel rushed with old friends and acquaintances.
If you or most of the exhibitors are fairly new to the industry, you may want to spend large blocks of time just wandering the floor, getting a feel for who is who and what is what.
You can schedule short appointments for meeting with those whose products and services interest you the most.
You should try and schedule all your appointments, both with established clients and newcomers, before the trade show begins, so that you can be sure of getting a meeting with everyone you want or need to see while you are there.
Be Prepared: You may have the perfect plan of attack, but without the right equipment, you may be doomed for failure.
Or at least sore feet.
A great deal of your time on the trade show floor will be spent walking and standing.
Pack and wear comfortable shows.
The trade show is not the place to break in a new pair.
Nor is it the place to wear that great looking but foot-crunching pair, either.
Wear comfortable clothing, too.
Be sure and take a sweater or jacket, something that you slip into if the hall is too cool.
Even if the show is in January, do not pack all your warmest gear, either.
Crowded convention exhibit halls can get uncomfortably warm, and you do not want to show up for that important meeting drowning in perspiration.
Take a notepad or mini-recorder for taking notes.
You may have a great idea on the second day of the show, but by the time you return to your office the next week, you can not remember a thing.
A client may find you in the lobby and ask you for an impromptu meeting after dinner, but if you can not remember the name of the restaurant or the time he suggested, what good is it going to do you? Having some way of taking notes and jotting reminders for yourself will make your time spent at the trade show much more enjoyable and profitable.
You might want to bring a small wheeled train case, messenger bag or backpack with you.
There are usually lots of marketing materials, promotional items and free samples given away at trade shows.
Having some place to carry them without straining your back too much or occupying your hands for the entire show is a good idea.
Some suggest that rolling cases can also create a path through crowded sections of the floor, if you push it ahead of you as you go.
Other fair goers say they make it too difficult to sort through all the material gathered come the end of the day.
You may want to try taking a backpack and a train case.
Or take one to one show and an alternative to another to help you decide which goody-gatherer you prefer.
Be Flexible: As with your goody-gathering device, your entire mindset during the tradeshow should be one of flexibility.
If a meeting does not pan out as you did hope, do not let it get you down.
If a client you really hoped to see at the show had to cancel at the last minute, spend some time networking with new folks.
Do not limit your entire experience to the show floor, either.
You may find groups gathered in the lobby or the hotel bar or in the restaurant across the street.
While these areas may not conducive to serious business talks, they can be great opportunities to meet new people, learn a few useful facts about a new product or service, and perhaps schedule a meeting or appointment for after the trade show.
While every meeting may not end in a sale, every meeting has the potential for a future meeting that may end in a sale.
Trade shows can be rewarding personally and professionally.
They can be a great time to connect with others in your industry or profession.
You can gain a good deal of knowledge, a good deal of business and have a good time while doing so.
By being prepared before and during a show, you can avoid a great deal of stress while creating a success.
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