No matter what your role is within the organization your company has decided to invest the time and money for you to attend a trade show. The benefits of attending a trade show sponsored by vendors or industry associations far outweigh any reason not to attend. These conferences have been developed in order to give all attendees the opportunity to learn best practices from others, meet service and solution providers from your industry and to network with others who walk in your shoes.
With less than one week away from the National Retail Federation’s Loss Prevention Conference & Expo, both vendor and retail attendees are finalizing their plans to attend. While there are several ways that you can leverage your trade show experience as much as possible (i.e. engaging presentation, attractive trade show booth, personable representatives, etc.), you as an individual need to take the time to plan ahead.
- Have a goal of what you want to accomplish at the show. This should include knowing your needs, identifying some new technologies or services to learn about and also thinking about your future goals and objectives.
- Go online and preview the agenda, looking at topics, speakers and timelines that will help you make the most of each day.
- If you are traveling with a co-worker, split up the agenda of sessions and share notes. You will be able to attend double the sessions. If traveling alone, look at how trade shows and conferences make session notes or presentations available post-conference. Try to meet the speaker to see if they would send you the presentation post-conference if you could not attend their session.
- Review the exhibit hall and exhibitor list. Read the exhibitors descriptions, not just their names. Today’s companies sometimes have names that do not describe all that they do. Plan a map of where they are and when you will be able to visit them during the show hours.
During the Show
- Pick up an updated agenda and show guide to provide you with any changes to agenda, sessions and exhibitors.
- Wear your badge in plain sight so that you can make it easier for people to greet you.
- Have a pen ready to take notes within the book provided to you. (A good tip is to keep your pen in your badge holder)
- When speaking with an exhibitor and you are interested in literature, request that it be mailed or emailed to you so you do not have to carry them back with you.
- When walking by vendor exhibits make eye contact and say hello even if you have no interest in the service. After all, they subsidize a large amount of the conference for most associations.
- Attend as many seminars and workshops as possible- the presentations is the main reason your company has agreed for you to attend in the first place. (Trust me they will ask what you learned)
- Provide feedback on each session you attend- fill out the comment cards provided.
Networking after Show Hours
- Plan on attending all sponsored events as it is a great way to meet new contacts.
- Bring plenty of business cards to hand out.
- Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself and make new friends If traveling with a group spread out, don’t just sit with the people you know and work with.
- You never know where and who your next job will be with, mingle, mingle, mingle.
Now that you are back into the daily grind, it is time to evaluate if attending the show was worth it for you and your company. To make a worthy assessment, ask yourself these questions;
Did you get out of the show what you had expected?
Did you learn or see anything new or anything that you can do differently to assist you in reaching new goals, objectives or results?
Was the cost of the show worth what you got out of it?
Did you meet new people that can help you further your profession, assist in your goals and objectives and can stay in touch with across the industry?
Trade Shows and conferences are the best place where an individual has the most access to the overall industry. Taking advantage of meeting new people, learning new things and even seeing and talking with vendors about new products and services will only make you a better professional. Take advantage of your time at a conference – we look forward to seeing you there.
Written by Kevin O’Brien, Account Executive