We try to attend a conference or trade show at least once per month. This keeps us up to date on the latest in the industry and allows us to constantly connect with many industry partners, clients, and friends.
Attending an industry event allows you the opportunity to not only step away from the office and learn something new but also provides some great networking opportunities. However, once you arrive, these events can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t attend them often. As someone that attends these multiple times a year, we’re here to provide some advice for your next scheduled industry event, sharing the things we’ve learned along the way.
4 ways to get the most out of your next conference or trade show event:
- Bring business cards. The main thing you want to get out of most trade shows and industry events is networking. You’ll probably meet a lot of people so don’t just bring business cards to hand out, but make an effort to collect them as well. As you collect cards from others, make notes on the back of the cards to remember key points about your conversation. This makes things easier when you get home with 50 cards and can’t remember who you talked to what about.
- Research. Take the time to do your research and learn more about who will be attending, where the best place to stay is, and even the best way to get to/from the event. Showing up without any knowledge of the area and conference is one of the reasons these events can be intimidating. If you do your homework, you’ll be able to plan and strategize for the event.
- Plan ahead. Using the research you did, make a list of people and companies you want to find and talk to. Know where these companies will be located and have a strategy in place. Who are you visiting first? Is there a layout/walking path that makes the most sense for you? This will allow you to make the most of your time and accomplish everything/meet everyone on your list. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Pre-register for the conference
- Set appointments with any vendor you want to make sure you talk to
- List seminars you want to be sure you attend
- Make a schedule (including the above)
- Stand, don’t sit. Make the most out of your time at these events! It can be tiring and sometimes include a lot of walking, but it’s worth it. Afterall, some of you are attending just to get away from sitting at your desk all day. (Just make sure you pack comfortable shoes!)
Other things to keep in mind:
- If flying to the event, keep enough room in your suitcase for any items you may be bringing back.
- Request samples to be mailed to your office rather than taking them home with you.
- Do a follow-up self-evaluation. Were your objectives met? Did the cost of the event prove worth it to what you learned and gained?
Keep this list on hand and put it to use at your next conference or trade show. And if you have a favorite event you attend often, let us know about it! We are always looking for new events to attend and would love to hear yours. And as always, if you’re attending an event with us in the future, please come say hello! We would love to meet you.