The common objective every trade show attendee must have is simple: to best maximize the time spentat that particular show. These shows cost money. It costs to attend and it costs to exhibit. To get the most from attending a trade show, you must have a clear strategy. And this will include time spent in the exhibit hall and time spent in seminars. Both are equally important.
Before the show, draft a list of the goals you want to achieve. Trade shows are multi-faceted and include a variety of meetings and educational sessions. Utilize materials that are produced prior to the show. Carefully review companies you want to visit and key players at those companies, Also, carefully review the seminars you want to attend as there are often many. Then draft a list of secondary options in case meetings or seminars get cancelled or something unexpected arises. The goal is to make every effort to maximize your time at an event.
Be sure to allot chunks of time. Some companies and seminars are more important than others. You may want to spend more time with Company A than Company B. You may want to attend the entire Seminar A and leave half way through Seminar B. These strategies go a long way toward maximizing your time at any event. Part of a solid pre-show plan is to make appointments with key exhibitors prior to the show or reserve your spot at a seminar of particular importance. Making appointments with exhibitors doesnt guarantee you will get face time. But your chances are much better. Also, do some homework: research people you plan to meet. This will allow you to ask insightful questions during your meeting. Plus, this preparation will minimize filler conversation and small talk.
Most shows offer a wide range of seminars specific to the trade show. And these seminars are normally impossible to find at events that arent industry-specific. Most industries are in a perpetual state of change. These seminars are extremely valuable educational resources and can significantly help you in your job and, most importantly, your career.
Determining the right seminars to attend, however, can be overwhelming. Start by assessing your strengths and weaknesses. Then prioritize your attendance at sessions that offer information that will benefit you the most. To further maximize your day at the show, block out chunks of time (meetings, business lunches, etc) where you have no flexibility. Then schedule those key seminars around those inflexible chunks of time. And be sure you are guaranteed a seat in the seminar. If this is an issue, reserving a spot or showing up early is a good alternative.
Finally, do not get overly ambitious. Its important to avoid squeezing too many meetings and seminars into the time you have allotted for the trade show. Dont ever overschedule. Have you ever heard of the Domino Effect? Trust me. This phenomenon will occur if you try to do too much. Be realistic about your time. Leave yourself some wiggle room in the event something unexpected happens, such as a spontaneous meeting with an old colleague or a conversation with a new contact.
When you commit to attending any trade show, plan ahead. Develop a well-thought-out strategy. Revisit that strategy before the trade show and fine-tune your planned activities to maximize your time. Remember, your attendance at any trade show or industry event is an investment of your time and resources. Develop a clear plan and make every effort to stick to that plan. Youll find that you will meet most of your goals and objectives.