Be in the Know Before the Show
When you’ve been in the building products industry for long enough, you learn some valuable lessons about attending a trade show and making the most of your time there. That’s how I know that every year, January marks more than just the start of the new year—it’s also the start of what we in the building products industry call “trade show season.”
Trade shows are fun and an teffective way to meet prospects; they’re also hectic and crazy. Over the years, I’ve lost count of all the trade shows I’ve attended, but the lessons learned have stuck with me.
I’ve compiled a quick list of tips for attending a trade show that need no further explanation:
- Follow all the handles/hashtags for the event to keep current—before, during, and after an event.
- Visit the website before the show to view the map against the schedule of speakers you’d like to attend. Don’t be that freshman who schedules back-to-back classes across campus.
- Download the app for the show beforehand (if they have one).
- Wear comfortable shoes—you’ll be walking. Hint: if your feet are hurting, seek out the booths that paid extra for carpet padding.
- Bring enough business cards.
- Have a plan for how you’re going to follow up with the prospects you meet. Then, follow through with it.
- Pack a backup phone battery and bring it with you. Thank me later.
- Don’t be that guy who eats your lunch at a table in a booth. Sit with prospects and meet new people.
- Know how long it takes to get to the nearest bathroom and back so you don’t miss something important.
- Wi-Fi isn’t always a given. Plan accordingly.
I’ve had to learn some of these lessons the hard way—but follow these tips and you won’t have to. Consider it my trade show season gift to you.
For more trade show tips and tricks, see my last roundup post here.
Bonus tip for those who made it to the bottom of this post: If you take nothing else away from this, remember that the Lowe’s booth always has fresh-baked cookies. Just be careful not to burn your mouth if they’re fresh out of the oven.