I was by myself at a craps table in Las Vegas. And that’s where I assume most of these stories like this typically take a turn for the worst. But I was celebrating. I could have been up or down no more than $40. It didn’t matter. I had just won a whole lot more than that during my first major trade-show experience.
Two weeks prior, I had quit my career in recruiting and decided to go into a new industry. It started by me paying my own way to the Digital Signage Expo. Over those two weeks leading up to the show, I had managed to reach out to over 40 industry leaders through referrals, phone calls, e-mails, and LinkedIn messages. I left with a clear cut path on starting a new career with the relationships and knowledge to steer me toward my goals. Later I learned how to represent a business offering in these environments.
Being intentional about my objectives, planning heavy up front, and being a steward on spending has taught me how ways to get the most out of trade shows. While gearing up for this years InfoComm, I thought I’d share some of my favorite trade-show “pro-tips”
- you have three options: 1. walk the floor, 2. partner with an exhibitor, 3. exhibit yourself. Weigh the pros & cons of all these. Focus on dollar spent for dollar earned. Lean toward being lean.
- make a list up front of the top 3-5 things you hope to accomplish. Don’t stop till you’ve done them.
- make a list of 3-5 NEW people you would like to meet. This could be your best shot all year. Focus on end users but also those who are vocal in the industry.
- don’t go to a breakout session unless you plan to participate fully. Come prepped and ask questions. Follow up and meet the speaker.
- stand out. It’s a must. What is your story and who will care? Why will they care?
- if your shirts are wrinkled from being packed, hang them in the bathroom and turn on the shower to steam them
- get on twitter and connect! Find your way to the parties. Its easy to get invited to stuff.
- attend. if the show starts at 9, get there at 8. “Off hours” have been my most productive.
- remember that you are not on vacation.
If you are headed to InfoComm 2011, send me an email at kporter at nanolumens.com so we can get connected!
trader image from Texas Beyond History
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