Preparing to attend a trade show can get overwhelming. You have travel arrangements, making sure everything at home and work can survive with your absence, and what the heck to do first once you arrive. I’ve prepared a few check lists to help make attending a trade show a little less frantic and a little more enjoyable. Whether you are attending your first trade show or your 100th, a little advance planning can help you make the most of your investment.
Before The Show
Make sure you’ve filled out all the paperwork you need to attend the show. You don’t want to arrive and find out you don’t have a badge or you need a copy of your last invoice to qualify for entry. Get it done as soon as possible. If you don’t get confirmation at least 3-4 weeks before the show, follow up.
Set a Schedule:
Start your show schedule. Use a calendar, use your phone, and just make sure you start writing down any appointments or meetings you are going to need to remember. Keep a running record in one place and make sure you can take a copy of that schedule with you to the show. Note contact information like e-mails or cell phone numbers in case you have to reach someone.
Travel in Style:
Make your travel arrangements. Give yourself time. Sometimes arriving the day before the show starts or leaving the day after it ends makes the difference in your energy and enthusiasm level.
Plan and Prepare:
Write down your objectives. What do you want to accomplish? Take classes? Meet with potential clients? Walk the show floor? Make sure you have enough time and set priorities.
Stick to a Budget:
If buying, set a budget now. You are going to get overwhelmed with great products and supplies. If you aren’t careful, caution flies out the window and you’ll come home with invoices exploding and credit card maxed out.
Get your resume updated. Get your portfolio together. Get your company brochures or marketing hand-outs prepared. Depending on your objectives and goals, make sure you have something to give others that has your complete contact information. There is no excuse not to have professionally done business cards. You are attending a business event. Yes, handmade business cards might showcase your talent, but in the long run all you need is to make sure you have complete contact information including, your name, mailing address, e-mail, phone, cell phone, and title.
Dress for the Occasion:
Select business casual to pack. Pack comfortable shoes. Wear your talent if it is appropriate for a business setting. Many do bring rolling carts/bags to use on the show floor. Just remember to take care and don’t run over anyone or leave these carts/bags in areas where people can trip over them. Personally, I use a large black leather purse that looks like a soft-sided briefcase. Rolling carts/bags just make you look like you are there to collect free stuff, not to make business contacts.
Know the Space:
There is always a show floor map online. Take the time to look it over. Know where the show is within the convention center. Check out where the classes and presentations will be held. Get the lay of the land before you arrive. I always get lost, but print out the convention map and put it in my purse so I don’t stay lost!