THE SHOP

October '21

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OCTOBER 2021 THE SHOP 57 SPECIAL REPORT: TRADE SHOWS to the question: "How will I maximize the contacts I make with show exhibitors and other individuals I meet?" "Trade shows provide the chance to com- municate with the entire industry under one roof," says Peter LoCascio, a Salem, Oregon-based consultant (tradeshow- consultants.com). "Each attendee should assume accountability for the time spent away from the workplace and for travel and hotel expenses. There needs to be a personal commitment to spending the money well by following through on new contacts." Some organizations are cutting back on expenses by sending fewer people to shows, notes LoCascio. That makes it even more important for each person to get the most out of their attending experience. Every attendee needs to exercise top tech- niques for maximizing their time. Maybe that means collecting business cards, having their badges scanned to receive product literature, scanning QR codes in booths or taking smartphone photos of new and interesting merchandise (but check the show rules to make sure photography is allowed.) "Six to eight weeks in advance of the show, bring your people together to make your expectations known," says Heiman. "Tell them how you expect them to dress and to conduct themselves. What kind of notes should they take and what reports will they be making? Suggest that they consider recording sessions and taking photos of the visuals that speakers put on the screen, and that they pick up any interesting handouts that would help their team learn." Bonus tip: Have experienced attendees brief novices on the best techniques for getting the most from a trade show. 2 TIP Set Specific Goals General goals are important. But translate them into specific actions. Define your gameplan in detail and be able to answer the key question: What do you intend to achieve? "Develop specific answers in advance to critical questions," says Nancy Drapeau, vice president of research at the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (ceir. org). "How many booths will you visit, and which ones? Are there specific educa- tional seminars you will attend? And how about networking events? How will you track your activities?" Plan your time in concrete terms. "Get an advance copy of the exhibitor list from the show sponsors," says LoCascio. "List the products and services you are looking for and draw up a plan to visit the booths of the relevant exhibitors. Avoid walking the aisles aimlessly." Achieving specific goals will require effec- tive networking skills. "If people don't know how to network, they will not know how to obtain valuable information," says Heiman. "Teach your staff how to start productive conversations with strangers and how to keep people talking. Make sure they can answer the question 'What do you do?'" Networking goals can also be specific. You might require your staff to find 10 new people with whom they can develop continuing relationships. They can do this by attending various networking events, and by splitting up to sit with different people at lunches, dinners and receptions. "The idea is to learn about the industry trends that will be affecting your company and your customers," says Heiman. Bonus tip: If you are going to the show as a group, get more done by splitting Define your trade show gameplan in detail and know what you intend to achieve. Teach your staff how to start productive conversa- tions with strangers and how to keep people talking.

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