The size of an exhibition or trade show is irrelevant, there is always a valuable reason to attend.
Exhibitions and trade shows are designed to give company owners, buyers, managers and potential clients the opportunity to meet suppliers, conduct business meetings, network with others and learn more about new products and services.
Before attending any exhibition or trade show, it’s essential to do your planning, so with this in mind, we’ve compiled some top tips for you to consider…
Plan your day
The key to getting the most out of any event is to pre-plan, something we all know too well.
It’s important to do your research to find out who will be attending, what they will be exhibiting and from that, who you want to see based on their relevancy to you. Split your list into ‘must see’ and ‘want to see’ to allow you to prioritise companies accordingly.
Decide on the length of time you want to spend at the show and then at each booth. Don’t forget, give yourself some added time for browsing, distractions and queues.
It’s always a good idea to keep a look out for keynote speakers offering insightful ideas throughout the day. The exhibition programme will provide you with times and locations, so if possible, plan your visit around their sessions. Take into consideration last minute changes to the exhibition programme. Sometimes, you can get last minute drop outs or sessions added in so have a final look on the morning of the show but don’t panic if something has changed, just rejig your plan slightly to accommodate.
Finally, the last thing you would want to do is get stressed out about transport whilst running late, so make sure you plan your journey in advance, especially if you’re in a location where you’re unfamiliar with their local transport. Ensure you give yourself plenty of time to make the most of your day.
Comfort is key
This may sound obvious, but wear something comfortable.
Some exhibitions require lots of walking and you could be on your feet for hours on end, so wear something practical that won’t give you sore feet!
Don’t forget to plan a break into your day to allow you to refuel and feel refreshed.
Don’t spend too much time filling out contact forms, take business cards with you to give out instead. You may be thinking that it only takes five minutes to fill out a form, but all those five minutes add up during the day.
Beat the queues
At many exhibitions, you can pre-book appointments with businesses who you’re particularly interested in speaking with. Not only does this help to jump to the front of the queue, but it also ensures that somebody is available to speak to you at length about your needs.
No matter how good your memory is, don’t rely on it.
As you visit different stands, seminars and workshops, it’s always useful to make notes about what’s been said. It’s worth noting down important details about the company you’ve spoken to, allowing you to do your own further research after the event.
Network, network, network
There’s always lots to discover at an exhibition so make sure you take the opportunity to chat with others. Resist the temptation to stick with colleagues or existing connections and focus your attention on introducing yourself to someone new.
To avoid lengthy conversations, be honest with exhibitors and tell them you’re on a tight schedule – it’ll avoid casual chatter and get down to business straight away.
Ensure your networking doesn’t stop once you walk out of the doors. Take advantage of social media and connect with others after the event. Use the show as a conversation starter, it’s always a talking point that works.
Don’t turn down a freebie
As you’re probably aware, fantastic freebies are always on offer. Most stands will give you a bag as it’s a great way for them to promote themselves as you walk around the show. As you’re walking the show, you may be thinking that you’ve acquired enough freebies, but don’t turn them down. You never know if you’ll need any freebie inspiration in the future.
Take in the sights
If you’re visiting an exhibition in a new town or country, don’t miss the opportunity to take in some of the local sites. Make sure you do your research on the area you’re visiting and look for any top tips of what to do whilst you’re there.
Don’t miss out on your sleep
You may not think walking and talking is tiring, but when you’re walking and talking for a solid eight hours, whilst lugging around all your freebies, it really is.
You may want to dive on your bed the minute you get home and think to yourself ‘never again!’ but don’t let it put you off. After a good night’s sleep, you will be rearing to go the next day and don’t forget, your Fitbit will be impressed!
We hope these tips come in handy and give you an insight into what needs to be consider during your next visit and if you think we’ve missed anything off, feel free to comment below.