The International Roofing Expo is upon us, and that means it’s time to talk trade show strategy. For a first-time attendee, an expo can be rather daunting. The main thing to keep in mind is to avoid “Trade Show Overwhelm.” The best way to do this is to plan ahead. Most trade shows provide maps of the floor, or even offer phone apps to keep up with booths you want to visit or educational sessions you want to attend. This way, you are prepared and ready for each day.
Search for sessions that will best suit your business needs or will challenge you as an individual. Check for educations sessions that may provide Continuing Education Hours you may need for licensing or designations. Locate vendors with products you want to see and determine the best strategy to get around the expo hall to spend time at each of them. Be careful to not over-schedule yourself, though. Expect that you will run into colleagues or friends, and you want to feel the freedom to say hello and catch up.
Look into cost savings. Many manufacturers or distributors offer discounts to their customers for expos. If cost is a heavy determining factor, only send the decision makers from your company (this could be one or two people). However, if a trade show is in your area, take advantage of the travel savings. For instance, since the IRE was in Nashville in 2019, Rackley Roofing rented buses and took our entire team of over 200 to the show. This is something we could never have afforded to do out of town, but it gave our team a glimpse into just how vast the roofing industry is at a much cheaper cost than we normally have for travel for a few individuals out of town. It also allowed everyone, from the newest field employee to the seasoned executive, to learn about new products and technologies to help our business in the coming year.
Remember to network, network, network! This is a great opportunity to learn from non-competing contractors in the industry. Most expos offer welcome receptions, as well as other networking opportunities scattered throughout the event. If you take a shuttle to the show, make sure to strike up a conversation with the person next to you. Or, you may bump into someone with a badge while walking around the city. Bring plenty of business cards and make sure to follow up with a quick email when you return home.
Finally, make sure you get involved. Find out what organizations have causes you agree with and become a member. Find out ways you can contribute back to the industry through these organizations. If you’re not sure where to start, check out the expo website for partners of the event. These are normally trade associations you’ve heard of and may be able to quickly find someone you already know to help you get involved.
See you in Dallas!
Michelle Boykin is CFO at Rackley Roofing. See her full bio here.