Trade shows are an important part of most industries and inventory management is vital to many of those industries. Trade shows and conferences such as the P21 World Wide User Group Conference and Microsoft Convergence are a great place to build relationships and network within the industry. Not only is this a great place for vendors to meet future clients it is also a great place for attendees to discover the latest and greatest tools to run their business more efficiently.
In my last blog I discussed the various “Don’ts” of trade show etiquette for both vendors and attendees. In this blog I would like to discuss the “Do’s.” There are several ways for an attendee and a vendor to get the most out of these shows. For vendors it’s finding that next great client. For attendees it’s finding that tool or software that can take your company to the next level.
I would first like to discuss the do’s of being an attendee. Attending one of these shows is like being a kid in a toy store. You get to walk around and look at all the cool “stuff” the trade show has to offer, and at the end of the show you get to go home with your favorite one. With that being said, here are some of the do’s for attending a trade show:
- Do talk to everyone – Ask many questions of both vendors and other attendees. Attending a trade show is a great opportunity to discover and learn. By talking to all the vendors you possibly can, you may discover a tool you didn’t even know you needed or even existed. By talking to other attendees, you can hear first-hand what they think about certain tools or learn new strategies in running your business. And if your job is to learn and then report to your boss, then you want to be able to answer any questions they may have.
- Do plan your day – Many trade shows and conferences provide a conference guide listing the vendors and classes that are available. Invest time, preferably before you arrive, to plan exactly who you want to learn from so you can give those vendors and classes your greatest attention.
- Do go to the social events – Many of these trade shows have social events. These are a great place to network and keep the day going even after the floor closes for the day. Enjoy a meal and talk to vendors and other attendees in a more relaxed setting, you may end up learning more than you could walking the trade show floor.
- Do use your time wisely – See as many vendors as you can. In order to do this you may have to keep some conversations short. If you talk to someone for more than 5 minutes and already know you have no need for that tool, or it has no relation to your company, move on. You’re only wasting precious time you could spend somewhere else more appropriate.
These are only a few of the do’s for attendees, there are many more, but these are some of the crucial ones. While these conferences are more focused on benefitting the attendees, the importance of these shows to vendors cannot be understated. This is a time to build up your leads, get your name and brand out there and maybe even go home with a new client to show off. With that in mind, here are a few of the do’s for vendors at trade shows.
- Do be energetic – Smile, say hello, be excited. Your job is to convince people you are worth listening to. No one is going to be interested in a quiet, glum person sitting at the back of their booth just waiting for someone to talk to them. Be active, who knows, that person you let walk by could have been your biggest deal of the year.
- Do remember the goal – While it is important to enjoy meeting new people and connecting, always remember why you are there. Your number one goal is to create new business and grow existing relationships for your company. Keeping your eye on that prize will make you more efficient and allow you to generate new relationships in a more effective manner.
- Do plan ahead – Plan your presentation, your exhibit and your materials but most importantly your staff needs to be well prepared. Attendees are going to ask a lot of questions. They should. Have experts available to answer any of their questions. Avoid embarrassment by knowing what you’re displaying inside and out.
- Do stay positive – You’re going to run into downtime. It’s ok, sometimes the floor is going to be slow, sometimes 15 people are going to say no thank you in a row. It happens. Keep talking to people and staying up beat, maybe that 16th or 17th person will say yes.
These are just a few of the do’s if you are a vendor at a trade show but there are plenty of others. These will help you have a stronger outcome when all is said and done.
Oh, and here’s a bonus tip for both attendees and vendors: Before you toss those business cards you collected, immediately connect on LinkedIn with those you met and exchange e-mails so you can stay connected with your new contacts and continue to grow those new relationships and learn from each other.
These are only a few tips. Are there some you agree or disagree with? What would you add to this list? I would enjoy knowing your thoughts. Please, leave your comments below.
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(Advanced Inventory Manager)