You have arrived at your trade show destination! Now what? Trade shows generally have an education day which is usually the day before the trade show opens so you hopefully found some classes or presentations you wanted to attend. It’s time to put all that pre-show planning and scheduling into practice. You have a set amount of days to take advantage of hands-on, one on one networking (trade shows can average 3-4 days). Look at the tips below, and then check out the craft show checklist that will help you get the most out of your investment in a trade show.
You need to pick up any class/presentation tickets and your show badge. This is usually done in the registration area of a trade show. If you are attending as press you will most likely need to pick up your badge in the Press Room. Don’t lose your tickets or your badge.
If there is a show book available, pick it up. The show book lists all the contact information for the exhibitors including show booth numbers. Show books also include handy maps of the facilities and sometimes include contact information for all association/organization members. It can be used as a very handy reference guide even after the show so remember to take it home with you
Make any last minute additions to your schedule. I often see ads within in the show book of new products or special events that I missed in my pre-show planning. I add the company name, booth number, and a short note about why I am interested in seeing the booth. I add any booth numbers I don’t have at this time too.
There are always lines when picking up tickets or your badge. There are lines when stopping for lunch at the show. Take this opportunity to talk with others. Believe it or not, I am a shy person. It isn’t natural for me to just strike up a conversation with a stranger, but I make it a goal to talk with at least 12 new people when I attend a trade show or event. Exchange business cards. Ask what they are seeing that they find exciting.
Walking the Floor:
I usually start walking at the end of the floor once the show floor opens. This way I’m not fighting the crowds. Everyone has their way of walking the floor, but it does help if you start in the 100 aisle (beginning of the show floor) or start with the last aisle. Many walk the show floor twice. The first time they just take notes, and then use the second walk through to buy goods, talk with representatives, and talk business. I can only make it one round so I tend to try to get any networking done as I am walking.
Check off the appointments, meetings, exhibitors, products, and other items on your schedule to help you know what you have gotten done and what still needs to be done. If you are attending several days of a trade show spend a little time each night reviewing your schedule, notes, and impressions of that day.
Discounts and specials:
If you are buying at the trade show, get your orders in at the show if possible and take advantage of show specials. You can often get a show discount or discount on shipping. If you are a first time buyer make sure you bring all your business paperwork (tax number, etc.) so you can set up an account or place the first order. There can be minimums placed on first orders such as you must buy $50-$2,000 worth of merchandise. Do your homework and know the company you will be working with including their requirements for selling to you. Keep any paperwork/invoices in a safe place and make sure you pack everything for your trip home. There will be samples and lots of product from classes/presentation that you may ship home or if you thought ahead, you brought a spare suitcase.
As you are walking the show floor be courteous and if using a wheeled cart be aware of where it is keeping it out of the way of floor traffic. Don’t take anything without asking. Many exhibitors do have fun items from magazines to scissors to books to bottle of glue that they hand out, but never assume anything in the booth is free for you to take. It’s not easy, but don’t get greedy. Take one giveaway and let your friends get their own.