Tradeshows: you either love ‘em or hate ‘em. To some, they’re a waste of time and money. To others, tradeshows are a good way to meet new customers and vendors, and to learn about new technologies from industry experts.
You get out of tradeshows what you put in. If you’re a vendor, buying a booth space and just waiting for the world to come to you probably is a waste of money. If you’re an agent and you’re just attending to see how many free meals and drinks you can score over the course of three days, then yes, that is a waste as well.
There are, however, plenty of things you can do to maximize the value of your tradeshow experience. Follow these rules and you – and your company – can feel good about your investment.
- There are a lot of tradeshows out there. Do your research and make sure the tradeshow(s) you’re attending align with your company’s goals. In other words, don’t go for the sake of going!
- Once you decide on a show, planning is key. Review the exhibitor list and show floorplan and come up with a strategy of key people to see.
- Research new vendors ahead of time and come prepared with questions. You should know your company’s elevator speech as well.
- Look at the educational sessions and speaking events and attend the ones that align with your personal job role and your company’s overall goals.
- Let people know you are attending ahead of time and get your company name out there. Ask your marketing team to help promote your attendance and offer ways for other attendees to schedule a meeting with you.
- Have your schedule booked at least a week ahead of time so you’ll be prepared for the show and have room for last-minute meetings and schedule changes. (They will happen!)
- Be prepared for your meetings. Have customer stats outlined and an agenda of what you want to discuss. It’s a good time to tell people what is new with your company and hear what their needs are.
- Networking is a must. Attend as many networking events as you can and bring lots of business cards. You never know who you will meet that can lead to long-term partnerships.
- Take good notes! When you return to your hotel room each night, make notes about who you met and what you learned. This will help you remember who was who and what you need to follow-up on after things settle down and you return to the office.
- Send thank you emails to the people who scheduled meetings with you and follow-up with others where appropriate.
Tradeshows allow you to spend face-time with your top customers and vendors, as well as meet new ones and develop potential partnerships. They allow you to get the word out about your company and hear about new happenings at other companies and within your industry. Any event that offers all that in one place has some intrinsic value and is worth making the trip to. But when you make that trip, make sure you make it count. Tradeshows are a lot of fun, but if you want to get the most bang for your buck out of them, they also involve a lot of hard work and planning!