How to attend a trade show like a pro

How to attend a trade show like a pro

You’ve been asked to attend a trade show, but you’ve never been to one! Now what? If your boss won’t be joining you, follow these tips to get the most of your experience and bring something valuable back to your team.

  • Be prepared
    • Register in advance online (bring your barcode!)
    • Arrive early and be familiar with your location
    • Bring a padfolio to organize your notes and business cards
    • Know who will be there (print a directory – or check to see if there’s an app for that!)
    • Don’t forget your business cards!
  • Have a plan
    • Since you’ll have arrived early and already gotten your badge before the floor opens to visitors, you’ll have plenty of time to grab coffee, find a place to sit, and plan your day.
    • Part of being prepared is knowing WHO will be at the show. Look through the directory and make sure you know where all of your “must-sees” are.
    • Next, think about what you are curious about, what you feel that you should learn, and what the buzz is about at the show!  Visit the award-winning booths, and wander off to visit a company you have never heard of.
  • Think before you speak
    • You will be approached by people you do not know, but they might have some questions about your company. You will look knowledgeable if you answer the following confidently:
      • Who calls on you?
      • Which products of ours do you stock? How are they doing?
      • Do you know anything about ‘x’?
    • If you get nervous when talking to new people, it helps to prepare a “pitch” about yourself and what you do at your company. Practice it a couple of days before the show and when someone approaches you, you will know exactly what to say! You will be relieved at how natural it sounds and you won’t have to worry about stammering over your own title.
  • Dress to impress
    • Figuring out what to wear to a trade show can be a little tricky. Dress professionally, but remember you will be on your feet all day! Think about wearing what you would wear to the office if you had an important guest coming in. Dress slacks and a conservative collared shirt work well for both men and women. A business casual dress or skirt ensemble also works, as long as you’re comfortable moving around all day.  Wear sensible shoes, but stay away from gym shoes.
  • Take pictures!
    • Companies put a lot of money and effort into trade show booths – you are going to see some cool things you will want to talk about to your team at work.  If appropriate, share your photos on social media, or at least on your LinkedIn profile.

Attending your first trade show can be nerve-wracking. However, with a little preparation you can turn a day out of the office into a day full of learning and networking.


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