Attending a trade show can be one of the best things you can experience. With all of the networking and educational opportunities, you are sure to grow and have a lot of fun. However, if you go to a trade show without a game plan, it can be stressful and you can miss out on opportunities. Being prepared from pre-show all the way through to post-show follow up will take the stress out of going to your next trade show.  If your next trip is the NAR show in Boston, come say hi to in booth #439.

Pre-Show Planning

Before going to the trade show, you should create a game plan that accounts for factors such as registration, where you are going to stay, and the dress code.

When you choose to go to a trade show, you should register in advance.  Generally you can save money if you pre-register for the show, rather than if you were to just show up at the door and register. Additionally, pre-registering also gives you the opportunity to register for any of the seminars that may be available to attend during the trade show. These do fill up quick, so the sooner you register, the better.

Having a place to stay if you are traveling for the trade show should be a huge priority. The closer to the convention you can stay, the less time you will waste traveling each day. Larger shows will attract larger crowds and rooms fill up fast. Booking your hotel in advance will guarantee that you will have a place to stay.

The correct dress code should be followed at the trade shows. Remember, you are going as a business professional, so make sure to look the part when deciding on what to wear for the trade show that you are attending. When attending, you will be networking and getting to know plenty of representatives from other companies. Dressing professionally can leave a lasting impression on those you get to know.

What to Do While You’re at the Trade Show

While at the trade show, you should be prepared to have fun and learn. Here are a couple of things you can keep in mind while you are at the trade show.  

There is likely a very good keynote speaker, but don’t miss out on the sideshows. When you pre-registered you should have locked in at least a couple of these smaller classes on specific topics of interest. But sometimes the best classes and information are found out on the convention floor. For example, if you come by the booth the NAR convention you can hear national speakers giving practical tips to help improve your business right now.  While out on the floor you should also take the time to explore at least 3 vendors you have never heard of or don’t know much about.

Keep your badge in plain sight. When walking around the show, there will be plenty of people to talk to and get to know. Keeping your badge in plain sight will make your name and the company you are from visible and more memorable. Additionally, your badge will allow you to walk in and out of the show as you choose.

To be prepared to network, keep plenty of business cards on you – be sure your contact information is up to date. Handing out your business cards will help you look professional and prepared when networking with others.

Lastly, it would be a shame to travel all the way to a new city and not look around a little while you are there. That can be hard with a tight learning schedule and meetings during the convention, so if you can, book an extra night or two before or after the show. If that is not an option, at least pick 1 local restaurant and attraction to take in that last night.  

After the Trade Show

After you return, take some time to evaluate the success of your participation in the trade show. Take this time to save the contacts that you made into your contact list and send an email or phone call to thank those you met.

Also, if this initiates your interest in attending trade shows, take some time to explore the other trade shows in your area as well.