CES tech trade show

Attending trade shows is not cheap.

For the businesses, there’s a lot of cost: booth space rental, designing and building a trade show display, staff to man the booth, airline tickets for staff to and from the trade show, hotel rooms and food. The cost to ship the display to the show and back and miscellaneous expenses, the price can be steep.

Even if you’re just going to the trade show as just an attendee, you might be surprised at what it’ll cost you. Of course, you’d be paying for your own ticket if travel is involved. Then you’ll need the hotel room, which is pricier than normal because of the trade show. You need to eat. You may need coffee. And let’s not forget that all important paycheck will be smaller if you take the day off and don’t have vacation time or PTO to cover missing time at work.

Ok, so don’t let the first two paragraphs get you thinking that trade shows aren’t worth the cost. You’d be wrong. It just means that if you’re attending a trade show, you’d better make sure you’re getting the most out of your time while you’re there.

Here are four things you can do to maximize your experience attending your next trade show.

Make A Plan

Trade shows can be bigger and have more options than you’d think a trade show could be. If you just “show up” without a plan of what you’re going to do, who you’re going to see, etc., you might be overwhelmed once you walk through the exhibition hall doors. Even though your trade show may not be massive like CES, with over 2 million square feet of exhibit space, with over 3600 exhibitors, you still need a game plan to see and do everything you want.

Instead, well before arriving, check out the trade show website and plan out which booth’s you’re going to visit, what speakers you want to see or what events are planned during the trade show exhibition. Making a plan before attending will ensure that you get to do the most important things on your list. Never leave a trade show regretting that you didn’t see someone or check out a business.

Network

Don’t just wander around a trade show with your blinders on. Trade shows are great places to network. Always be ready to talk about what you do, what your company does and make sure to have plenty of business cards with you. If you see a company that you think would be valuable to you or your company, don’t be shy; introduce yourself.

*Bonus – If you see or hear about any happy hour mixers or after show parties, get out to as many of them as you can. Connect with people. Be engaging.

Be Social

If you’re on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube make sure you’re sharing what you’re doing, who you’re seeing, what products are interesting. Take pictures and share them. Use the trade show’s hashtag when sharing socially. Take selfies at different booths with staff or of you in the booth. Record quick videos at booths giving sales staff a chance to talk about themselves or their products or about the contest that is happening. Being social in this way makes you stand out to the businesses you visit and keeps your name in their mind after the trade show is over.

Live Blogging

Live blogging from trade shows is a powerful way to increase your personal brand, your presence at the trade show and around the world.

No matter how many people are around you at the trade show, there are just as many, if not more people who wish they were at the trade show too. Live blogging the sights and sounds of your experience at the trade show, you’ll likely have an audience hungry to see and read what’s happening at the trade show.

Hopefully you see that there can be more to attending a trade show than just walking up and down the aisles looking around at the trade show displays. You just have to think about what you want to experience from the trade show and figure out what’ll be best. What do you think? What have you done at your last trade show?