The Don’ts Of Attending A Trade Show

Industry trade shows & conventions are a great way to network with peers, establish new connections, and learn about the market. Here's what you shouldn't do at such events.

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A look at the trade show floor during the Industrial Supply Association convention back in April. (ID photo)Recently Cutwater Solutions exhibited its inventory solution at the P21 World Wide User Group Conference in New Orleans. Earlier this year Cutwater exhibited its inventory solution at Microsoft Convergence in Atlanta and made an impact on many of the more than 12,000 attendees using MS Dynamics ERP products such as GP, SL, NAV and AX. Cutwater has registered to be a vendor at Convergence 2016 in New Orleans and also anticipates exhibiting again at the Epicor P21 conference next year.

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In doing these trade shows I have made several observations from both the vendor side, as well as the attendee side. In my travels to these trade shows I have compiled a personal list of do’s and don’ts. Anyone can go be a vendor or simply show up to a conference, but the key is to get the most out of your efforts. In this blog I would like to share some of those don’ts. In my next blog I will expand on the do’s of attending a trade show.

Related: Seen and Heard at ISA 2015

I would like to first discuss the don’ts of being an attendee. These trade shows are more about attendees being able to discover new ideas and tools to help benefit their company’s overall goals. It is important they use their time their effectively and efficiently. With that being said here are some of the don’ts for attending a trade show

  • Don’t skip the floor â€“ While there are always many interesting lectures and speakers at these events be sure to take what you’ve learned and apply it to the floor. Go talk to vendors, learn what their tools can do and see how you can apply what you’ve learned in the sessions to the purchasing decision process.
  • Don’t go with a grocery list â€“ While this may seem like a more efficient strategy, in reality you may be skipping over a better tool or a better option simply because they were not on your original list.
  • Don’t skip lunch â€“ Sometimes the best conversations and the best relationships can be built over a simple meal. Take advantage of this time to network and get to know vendors and possible partners.
  • Don’t wander aimlessly â€“ While you don’t want to have a grocery list you also don’t want to wander around and waste time at a booth you know has no benefit to your company. This is not a good use of your time when you could be having a stronger conversation with someone more aligned with your business needs.Cutwater one of the most visited booths at Convergence 2015

These are just a few of the don’ts for attendees, there are more, but these are the big ones. While these conferences are more for the attendees, the importance for vendors cannot be understated. This is a time to get your name out there as a business and to build relationships. Who knows, you could even walk away with a brand new client. With that in mind here are a few of the don’ts for vendors at trade shows.

  • Don’t be a statue â€“ Go up to people. Get their attention. If you just stand behind your booth and simply talk to those who come up to you, you’re going to miss out on a lot of possible connections. Be engaging.
  • Don’t skip lunch â€“ Just like the attendees, sometimes the best conversations and the best relationships can be built over a simple meal. Take advantage of this time to network and get to know possible partners and customers.
  • Don’t hide in your hotel room â€“ Just because the floor closes up for the night doesn’t mean you have to. Make conversations with people everywhere you go. When you get back to the hotel, hang out in the lobby or at the bar and try to meet as many people as you can, chances are they are at the same conference.
  • Don’t forget why you’re there â€“ It’s easy to think you are on a small vacation from work; you’re out of town, your boss isn’t around, and there’s a lot of free food. But remember, you’re there to try and bring in new business and build relationships. Don’t lose sight of this goal.

These are just a few of the don’ts to keep an eye out for when being a vendor at a trade show but there are plenty of others. These will help you have a stronger outcome when all is said and done.

These are only a few tips. Are there some you agree or disagree with? What would you add to this list? I would enjoy knowing your thoughts. Please, leave your comments below.

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