Have you ever heard of trade shows referred to as “living magazines”? The exhibitors are the advertisers, the conferences and keynote speakers are the editorial material, and the attendees are the readers. Here are few techniques to get the most out of your trade show visit.
Make a “to do” list. List the booths that interest you by aisle number, booth number, and company name. Use markers to color code the list: “must see,” “want to see,” “looks like an interesting company,” and so forth. Keep your eyes open for the small company you haven’t heard of. You never know what connections you could make.
Wear comfortable walking shoes. It seems obvious, but take this one seriously. Better yet, bring along two pairs of broken-in shoes and alternate.
Take care of yourself and go home healthy. Eat a good breakfast, carry a bottle of water with you, and never reach into a bowl of loose candy unless it’s wrapped. Bring along your own granola or candy bar.
Wash your hands often. You will shake hands with lots of people, so take along packaged wipes or a small bottle of hand sanitizer to use throughout the day.
Bring along a sturdy tote bag that keeps your hands free. One might be provided, but yours might be more comfortable to carry all the swag, papers, and catalogs that you’ll pick up.
Bring plenty of business cards. Don’t rely on the badges to have your correct contact information. Giving someone your card as you talk can make your conversation more memorable. When someone gives you his or her card, write a short note on the back so you can remember a few important details about the conversation.
Bring large overnight delivery envelopes. They come in handy to send information to your office that you want to keep but don’t care to carry or pack in your luggage.
Anywhere can be a great place to meet people. Start a conversation with the person standing next to you in the registration line, for example. Plan to attend at least a couple of the seminars; you’re bound to meet people interested in the same topics. Keynote speeches, too, offer insights and chances to connect with others.
There’s one more essential: don’t forget to have a good time!
Roy Katz is a business journalist based in Las Vegas, Nev.