Tradeshows can either be a great time to network or they can be a complete failure. For agents, the outlook is similar with either making headway on new relationships or wasting your time at the wrong event. What tradeshows can help vendors, agents and everyone else do is create exposure to new technologies from industry experts.
You get out of it what you put in. If you’re a vendor, buying a booth space and just waiting for the world to come to you probably is a waste of money. If you’re an agent and you’re just attending to see how many free meals and drinks you can score over the course of three days, then yes, that is a waste as well.
There are, however, plenty of things you can do to maximize the value of your tradeshow experience. Follow these rules and you can feel good about your time spent at the tradeshow.
- There are a lot of tradeshows out there. Do your research and make sure the event(s) you’re attending align with your goals. Don’t waste your time and money to go for the sake of going!
- Planning is key with any show you decide to go to. Review the exhibitor list and show floorplan and come up with a strategy for getting in front of the people you want to see.
- Research new vendors ahead of time and come prepared with questions.
- Look at the educational sessions and speaking events and attend the ones that align with your interests and overall goals.
- Let people know you are attending ahead of time and offer ways for other attendees to schedule a meeting with you.
- Have your schedule booked at least a week ahead of time so you’ll be prepared for the show and have room for last-minute meetings and schedule changes. (They will happen!)
- Be prepared for your meetings. Have you research done and an agenda of what you want to discuss. This is your chance to get a better understanding of what makes this company’s products better than the rest.
- Networking is a must. Attend as many networking events as you can and bring lots of business cards. You never know who you will meet that can lead to long-term partnerships.
- Take good notes! When you return to your hotel room each night, make notes about who you met and what you learned. This will help you remember who was who and what you need to follow-up on after things settle down and you return to the office.
- Send thank you emails to the people who scheduled meetings with you and follow-up with others where appropriate.
Tradeshows allow you to spend face-time with vendors and customers alike, as well as meet new ones and develop potential partnerships. They allow you to get the word out about your skills and hear about new happenings at companies within your industry. Any event that offers all that in one place has some intrinsic value and is worth making the trip to. But when you make that trip, make sure you make it count. Tradeshows are a lot of fun, but if you want to get the most bang for your buck out of them, they also involve a lot of hard work and planning!