A Walk to Remember: Attending A Trade Show

Tis the (trade show) season: Toy Fair, MAGIC, Comic-Con, CES, Licensing Show … No matter what trade shows you attend, make walking the floor work for you. Here are five tips to help get the most from your attendance:

  1. Be clear in your objectives for attending. What do you want to achieve? Who do you need to meet?
    Are you trying to sell? Gather intelligence? Network with established contacts? Know before you go.
  2. Scour the Exhibitor list (usually found on the show’s website.) Research who to ask for in advance.
    If the show is large, break it into quadrants and chart an actual course that hits your key locations.
  3. Set appointments in advance. This is helpful especially if you have specific sales or networking goals. Expect to meet 5-10 minutes at the most.
  4. Have an elevator speech – a 45 second “spiel” that tells a new contact what your firm does and why it is different – and better. Include two key messages and at least one offbeat or amusing element that makes it memorable.

In addition to business cards, carry a handful of 3×5” cards. Write notes on the cards (and the business cards you collect) to follow-up with prospects and contacts within five days of returning from the show.

A few practical tips: Bring cash for cabs, food and cocktails. Dress for business – but wear comfortable shoes (and stick a couple of Band Aids in your wallet, just in case of blisters.) Bring a FedEx label with you and ship collected materials home (sometimes you can even do this from the show floor.) In the words of Tim Gunn, “make it work!”

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