Following on the heels of the New Year is what I affectionately refer to as “Trade show season, Part 1” in the first quarter and “Trade show season – fall session” or Part 2. There is literally something to participate in almost every week for a month or two at a time if you go, attend a cross section to support your business.
If you do not come up with a logic-based strategy for your participation or attendance for the year, you could end up coming away from “the season” feeling like the wrong end of a shotgun blast.
The strategy that has worked for me regardless of my role in the company is to take a look back at the past year of all the trade shows and conferences I attended, trade shows I had heard about but not attended for whatever reason and assess those I attended and those I am considering.
What benefit was the show or was it neutral? What was the return on my investment of time and money for each show? To interact with others in my industry, connect with business prospects, to see and be seen? Was it a poor investment and would I be better served attending something different?
Once I have determined where I am spending my time and money, I research who is going to be there, who is exhibiting and what events are offered. Again, what is my goal? I make it a habit not to sit with the same people over and over and work to meet and cover as much ground as I can, working to locate companies I would like to meet, reconnect with or touch base with.
If I have a booth, I work to engage everyone that passes the booth. Speaking just to people I know or co-workers in the booth is a not an effective use of my time and company money and works against why you are there in the first place.
If you are going to be out of the office, make it count.
Thea Dudley is an expert credit and collections officer, having spent 30 years in the construction field working for contractors and distributors. See her full bio here.