Whether you’re planning to attend a large, nationally recognized trade show like Interop
or a small, niche one like NEARMUG
, it’s easy to let those few days slip by too quickly – only to be left saying, “Uhh…” when your boss asks, “So what did you learn?” (And yes, your boss will ask you.)
We’ve compiled a few tips to help you get the most out of any trade show experience, and we’ll be sharing them over the next few weeks. Why? Because after your post-cocktail reception hangover subsides and the swag is lost or forgotten, the cost for any company to send their employees to a trade show must be justified – now more than ever.
Pre-Show Trade Show Tips:
1. Take an active role in planning your trip.
It’s a good idea to actively participate in the planning process of booking accommodations and creating a travel schedule, instead of having an office manager or administrative assistant do it all for you. (For starters, it could mean the difference between an aisle seat or being crammed between two seven year-olds on the way to Disney World.) Being familiar with your travel schedule will help you plan ahead for any extra details that only you can manage (like when your neighbor needs to feed your cat). Planning ahead = less stress, and more time to focus on the trade show itself.
2. Visit the trade show’s website ahead of time.
Get the scoop on discount passes, scheduling changes, keynote speaker bios, hotel deals and any other pertinent information. Planning to live tweet during the show? If the trade show has a Twitter
account, start following a month or so before the event, and get familiar with popular hashtags related to the event.
3. Plan your course schedule.
At a show like Data Center World
, attendees have as many as seven courses to choose from during a particular time, some within the same track. Take a look at the course descriptions beforehand and create a personal schedule highlighting which ones you want to attend. Consider talking to your supervisor or colleagues if you can’t decide between courses – they may have their own ideas about which topics are most relevant for your department right now. Another bonus? Planning ahead means networking during coffee breaks between sessions, instead of having your head buried in the course schedule.
4. Create a list of must-see vendors.
Considering revamping your data security plan? Need to get the latest on cloud computing? Make a list of vendors that can help with the work your IT department has in the pipeline, while saving time to visit your industry buddies or network on the floor.
5. Pack smart.
Look at the schedule of events ahead of time – some events may have an established dress code, particularly for cocktail or VIP events. Research the venue, as well – if you’re planning to hit the casino floor or visit an upscale restaurant at the Mirage during Data Center World
, you may want to consider bringing a dressier outfit. Lastly, check the weather a few days before the event – it can make the difference between packing an umbrella or a pair of sunglasses.
The message here is loud and clear: planning ahead will help you get the most out of your trade show visit, and reduce the stress of travel and information overload during your trip.
Next week we'll post tips to keep in mind during a trade show.