three things you forgot at your last tradeshow

Working at akhia communications, we’ve all been to our fair share of tradeshows. We attend big shows and little shows, we support our clients, we grow our industry expertise and so much more. From the shows I’ve attended, I learned that no two tradeshows are alike, but one thing remains the same: I always forget something. And I don’t mean my toothbrush.

With the whirlwind that is a tradeshow, it’s easy to forget the basics and, trust me, I have! So here’s three things you likely forgot at your last tradeshow and tips on how to remember them for next time.
You forgot why you’re there. Maybe it’s the show you’ve attended for years or a new show all together, but sometime during the three-day exhibition you wonder… “How much longer until I can go home and get back to work?” Man, I’ve been there too! But being away from your day-to-day is more profitable than you might think. That is, if you can remember why you’re there in the first place.

So why do you go to the same show every year? Or why are you exploring a new industry landscape? Do you want to collect leads? Gain a new perspective on an old industry? Or maybe you want to see what the competition is doing and how you can beat them at their own game? Next time you head to a tradeshow, try to choose one or two reasons why you want to attend and then chase hard after those goals while you’re there!

Pro Tip: Different cities attract different demographics, and many shows bounce from location to location. Are you there for a good time? Then head to Vegas, where you’ll see higher foot traffic and flashy booths. Are you there for a long time? Then consider Atlanta, where prospects float from meeting to meeting, seeking out the best business deal.
You forgot your business cards. You never know who you’re going to meet at a tradeshow. You never know who you’ll meet outside the show floor hours either. At my last tradeshow, I met Dustin Anderson from Fixer Upper at an after-hours cocktail event, and I was caught with my pants down, err, pockets empty, as I scoured for a business card so we could stay in touch. But on my way home, I struck up a conversation with a gentleman on the plane who was interested in akhia and what we do. I gave him my card. Guess who I still talk to? (Here’s a hint, it’s not Dustin).

Tradeshows bring all kinds of people, even celebrities, and they’re all looking for something. For someone. If and when that someone is you, make sure you have what you need to sell yourself! Fill your pockets, stuff your wallets, heck, set a stack on the hotel room vanity so you can remember to grab your cards as you walk out the door.

Pro Tip: Go paperless, because there’s an app for that. And your new contacts will remember you for your slick, high-tech ways.

You forgot you meet with people, not businesses. Yes, everyone is wearing slacks and dress shirts. Yes, everyone is there for work. But remember that everyone you meet is human too! Just like you, they wore the wrong shoes on day one but learned their lesson and wore their “backup” pair the rest of the week. They called their loved ones between breaks to check in and say, “I love you.” And believe it or not, they too ordered the pizza slice from the conference center cafeteria, only to find out they got a $15 piece of cardboard with cheese on top instead of actual pizza.

All that being said, my most memorable connections were personal conversations with a touch of business. So get to know the people you meet. Ask them why this industry inspires them, what they love about their company and then, if appropriate, let them know you want to work alongside them to keep their industry passions alive. In the words of Ellen DeGeneres, just be kind to one another, guys!

Pro Tip: Take care of yourself and remember you’re not a business either. Tradeshows are A LOT, and you need time to recharge for whatever is next on your jam-packed agenda. So maybe skip the 11 p.m. drink at the hotel bar and go to bed. Or take a dip in the hotel pool in the morning, because you’re in Florida for crying out loud, and it’s 50 and rainy back home.

Did I forget something? Let’s connect so you can remind me of your basic tradeshow best practices as well.