The investment of time and money to attend a trade show can be pretty significant, especially when you consider the amount of time away from your business…so set yourself up to get a big return on that investment.
1. Avoid an Information-Drunken-Stupor – Don’t come home in an information-drunken-stupor! Set your show goals! As a consultant that has worked with over 1000 businesses I notice that the most successful people are highly focused on their goals. When you attend a trade show you will be bombarded with information and ideas and distraction by shiny objects is very likely. So, before attending identify what your company goals for the year are, and then what 3-5 goals for the conference are, and write them down.
2. Make Your “No Interruption Plan” – While you are attending the conference you will be absent from your business. To get the most out of your time there make a plan for business items to be handled by others so you are able to focus on the convention education, interaction and experience that you have invested so much in (contact me if you need ideas on how to get others to run your business for you).
3. Schedule Your “Must See Events” – Take a look at the education schedule, the exhibitors list, the events calendar, and review the registrants list for colleagues and experts that you would like to connect with. Create your schedule inputting your “must see” events first.
4. Build in Planning and Absorption Time – As you are building your own Show Schedule build in at least one hour each day to be alone and absorb the information and ideas you are gathering and plan how you will use them. Without this time, it is very likely most of what you are exposed to at the event will never be utilized.
5. Make a Stay-Organized Plan – There will be many pieces of paper, contacts, website links, ideas, and more that you will encounter at the show, so plan ahead. I tend to keep a combination of a notebook for printed material, and an Excel spreadsheet with multiple worksheets for notes. No matter which method you use, set up a system to keep the following categories: Speaker Notes, Ideas for My Business, Immediate Actions, Resources and Links, Products and Offers, and actually an active To Do List of all of the items that pop into my head that need to be done when I get home.
6. Clear Your Phone Memory – Your phone can be used to take pictures of screen shots, colleague notes that they share, audio recordings (with permission) and other items you don’t have time to write or type. However, if your phone memory is full you will be limited, so clear this out and back everything up before heading out.
7. Give Yourself a Curfew – With the excitement of the all of the activity it is tempting to hit every hospitality party in town. So before you get caught up in the fever set a nightly curfew for yourself so you don’t sleep through important events in the morning. Morning sessions often have lower attendance and it may be your chance to gain more access to speakers and experts on the topics that interest you.
8. Plan to Take Advantage of Live Opportunities for LIVE Access to experts – At Trade Shows speakers, sponsors, and experts may be professionals that typically would be difficult or expensive to gain access to. Make time to take advantage of this opportunity.
9. Capitalize on Relevant Show Specials – At shows there are often special deals with deep discounts that you may want to take advantage of. Check your list of goals, and if the opportunity matches an item on your goal list, then go for it, and save some dough!
10. Plan Your Post-Conference 13-Week Plan – Early on, and maybe even before you go, plan the 13 weeks (one business quarter) after the conference, and where do you have time to implement projects. You will come home with a swarm of ideas, and without a plan for your time, it is likely you will not have time to act on your good intentions. Plan time to succeed!
11. Follow Through – Unfortunately for most business owners very few post trade show plans get executed on. In my experience the key ingredient for results is MINDSET. Business success is reliant upon laser focus on your goals, as well as energetic optimism of your actions paying off. When you return, create an environment where this can happen. Clear your desk, put up visuals and hire a coach/consultant to make action happen and help you deliver results.