Your Attendee Trade Show Survival Guide
“Networking” is a predominantly online phenomenon. We use social networks such as LinkedIn and Facebook to connect us with our friends and coworkers, and Twitter takes it one step further by connecting us with celebrities, politicians, and even brand names themselves (go ahead, mention @TacoBell in a tweet–see what happens). But once upon a time, networking was an exchange that took place, not online, but in person. Expanding your network meant meeting and interacting with other like-minded individuals, and the bigger your network grew, the more opportunities were sure to come your way.
In a society ruled by social media and virtual networking, it can be hard to justify meeting up in person — but real world, face-to-face interaction still holds the top spot on the good business totem pole. And trade shows serve as the perfect venue for you to focus on your people skills! But it comes at a price; trade shows can be hard on your feet, your body, and your mind (if you’ve ever spent more than five hours at a major trade show, you know exactly what we’re talking about). So here is our trade show survival guide to help you make the most of your networking!
Comfort is Key
If you’re flying in to your destination, pack lightly! If at all possible, avoid checking your bag and stick with a carry on. Luggage can easily get lost, leaving you stranded at the trade show without any of your essentials. Make sure all your outfits are mix and matchable and, above all, wear comfortable walking shoes! The less time you spend dealing with wardrobe malfunctions, the more time you can spend networking with important individuals.
Make a Map
With so many booths to visit and so many speakers to see, trade shows can quickly become overwhelming. Print out a copy of the floor plan and map your route. Save time by scheduling by location–that way you won’t be racing across the venue every 60 minutes.
Leave the Laptop
Loading yourself up with gadgets before hitting the floor is a bad idea from the start. Not only will you have a hard time keeping track of all those electronics (and inevitably lose one) but you’ll have an even harder time keeping them powered while you’re out on the floor. Stick with your smart phone, a wireless charger (for emergencies), and a thumb drive. Bring your tablet if you must, but leave the laptop at home.
You’re guaranteed to leave the show with a new outlook on business, a whole lotta new friends, and a pocketful of business cards. But chances are those cards won’t mean much by the time you get home and throw them in your rolodex (wait, do they still make those?). Bring a special baggie for your business card collection and keep a pen handy to make notes on each card; things like “follow up in a few weeks,” or, “had great ideas about marketing.” And don’t forget to bring (and hand out!) your own business cards as well.
Stay tuned for more trade show tips to come. Sign up to receive our newsletter and we’ll include a complimentary book discussing the secret marketing tool your competitors don’t know about!