Make the Most of Your Next Industry Trade Show
The strategic importance of trade shows to business leaders cannot be overestimated. Simply put, events provide important business leads, new contacts and the latest industry trends and information. With 46% of trade show attendees holding executive or upper management roles, according to conference industry research group Ceir, there is no denying that trade shows are a great opportunity to reach decision makers directly.
Still, as valuable as conferences are to business, they are only as valuable as you make them. Unfortunately, many show attendees simply don’t make the most of their time at an event. Others focus strictly on their company booth and their team member needs, inadvertently passing up opportunities that could greatly impact their business objectives and company profitability. Below is a list of three of the most commonly missed opportunities at industry events and suggestions on how to effectively address them.
Staying at your booth
While staffing your company’s booth is often the primary goal of attending and participating in a conference, it can also keep you and your colleagues isolated from many of the show attendees as well as other exhibitors. Not walking the floor to visit other booths and meet people is a missed networking opportunity. Visiting other booths is also a great way to see products and services offered by competitors in your industry. Larger events, such as the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas maps exhibitors by categories such as computers, cameras, etc. If you don’t take the time to explore outside of your immediate designated booth area or show category, you could be missing a large part of the conference including important presentations, keynotes and other show highlights. If you are on “booth duty” and required to staff your own company booth, try to make some time when crowds are lighter, such as early in the morning or at the end of day, to check out the rest of the show.
Introducing yourself to keynote speakers and panelists after they speak
As PR professionals, we know that perhaps the most important tool in our industry are relationships. Our access to valuable media and analyst contacts has led to many of our clients choosing KCD PR over the competition. One excellent way to meet high value contacts is to introduce yourself to event speakers after they appear at a conference. Its no secret that trade show organizers often invite the most relevant and influential industry thought leaders to speak at their conferences. Sometimes, approaching an event speaker with a simple introduction and thoughtful compliment on their presentation can lead to a valuable relationship that can impact the future of your entire organization. However, much like theater- it is best to approach speakers after their “performance” not before, when they could be mentally preparing for their presentation. Just remember, like anyone else you meet at a trade show, event speakers will often ask about you and your company when you meet them. Keep your business card handy and have a quick and concise overview in mind should they ask about you and your organization.
Meeting your competitors
Not surprisingly, this is one that many people struggle with. Yet, the potential gains from meeting your competitors and initiating a dialogue with them can be a massive win for your organization. Too often people focus on unfounded theories to justify why they shouldn’t trust or like their business competitors. The truth is, building good relationships with competitors can be extremely valuable to both your career, as well as your company. In fact, many of the mega-mergers between competitors that greatly impact industries and make news headlines around the world often start with a simple introductory handshake between two competitors at a trade show. Meeting competitors at conferences can also be a great recruiting mechanism for your organization. Is there a better place to meet qualified and trained candidates that are well-versed in your industry than a trade show? The same goes if you are in the market for new career opportunities, visiting a competitor’s event booth is a great way to start a casual dialogue with a potential employer and gauge what an organization and its team members are truly like.
It’s (trade) show business
For many industry professionals, attending trade shows is a necessary part of the job. As we navigate the various industry conferences that define our industries, many of us will undoubtedly experience annoying travel delays, endure stale hotel room coffee and once again forget to bring comfortable shoes to our next trade show. Still, why not make the most of it and plan your next event with a specific strategy and business goal in mind? Trade shows are not only necessary to business, they are valuable opportunities. With the right mindset, they can also be a lot of fun and a chance to not only make new contacts, but also to reconnect with industry colleagues and friends you may not get to see often.
Meet us at our next industry conference