One of the best things about seeing the global pandemic finally take a spot in the rear-vision mirror is the return of large-scale events such as sporting finals, concerts, and trade shows. Attending a trade show or expo is an invaluable opportunity for making new connections within your industry. While these events are usually exciting and fun, the scale of a major industry expo can also be overwhelming for the unseasoned attendee.
The upcoming 2023 AusFitness Expo in Sydney is a prime example of an exciting, massive event. It can be easy to chase one bright shiny object after another and end up seeing a lot, but maybe not using those opportunities to connect face-to-face with some really crucial players.
If you’re wondering how to get the most out of an expo, here are some tips to help you get more juice for the squeeze…
Before attending an expo Tip #1: Research!
This might have been an ugly word back in high school, but it doesn’t have to be now! Assuming you have some interest in the industry, you’re probably going to have a bit of fun trawling through the list of exhibitors and noting down the ones of most interest to you.
Before the event Tip #2: Make a timetable
There might be a list of guest speakers or special demonstration sessions that are going to be held. Note down those times – if it’s a person or product that interests you, you’ll want to make sure you get a spot at the session… if it doesn’t interest you, it could be an excellent opportunity to score some time to talk to another exhibitor because some of the crowd will be at the session.
Before the expo Tip #3: Be informed
Once you’ve figured out which brands or exhibitors are of most interest to you, arm yourself with information before the expo. Check out their website, request information packages and familiarise yourself with their product or service. It will save time when you get to actually interact with them and make you appear like you know your stuff, making you more attractive to engage with.
Getting the most out of an expo Tip #4:
Pre-connect then Re-connect
If you’re genuinely interested in connecting with a particular business that’s going to be at the expo, make it known to them! Reach out prior to the event and express your interest – maybe you can book a specific time to meet with them. If you’ve already got a touch point prior to the event, it’s easier to start a conversation when you meet in person.
This goes for afterward too. There will be a lot of exchanges of contact details and business cards on the day, so once everyone has returned home to decompress, it’s a good idea to touch base via email or social media to follow up.
Attending a trade show Tip #5: Dress for comfort
Trade shows usually involve a lot of standing and walking around. Wear good walking shoes – these events don’t happen every month, so don’t waste an opportunity because you can’t stand to be on your feet any longer! If you have company-branded clothing, that’s great because it helps identify you. If you don’t have anything with a logo on it, try to wear something that will be both comfortable and casual. Well, not too casual, because you want to look professional, but not too professional because you want to be approachable. Simple, right?
Attending an expo Tip #6: Practice your pitch
As cheesy as it sounds, it’s a good idea to practice answering a few questions you’re likely to be asked so you sound like you’ve got your sh*t together on the big day. Examples might include;
– What do you do and how
– What problems you’re looking to solve or need help solving
– Your values or non-negotiable priorities
Even if you’re not selling anything at the expo and only attending as a potential consumer, it’s a good idea to be able to articulate what you’re about in a few clear sentences. You never know who you’re going to meet at these events.
Going to a trade show Tip #7:Bring business cards
Business cards are a simple way to assist in post-expo follow-ups. Getting the most out of an expo involves lots of networking and conversations with people in your industry. It’s a good idea to leave the reverse side of your business cards blank so you can write a personalised message or a note to jog someone’s memory about your conversation when they look at it in a few days’ time.
Visiting an expo Tip #8: Take a break to stay on track
A fitness expo is always bound to have some protein bars or other snacks on offer. Take a freebie and give yourself a few minutes to recalibrate. You might like to make some notes on your phone, check off your list of exhibitors to see, or just do a spot of people-watching. A few deliberate breaks in your day can help you stay focused on your priorities and even give rise to some chance conversations with interesting people you might not have otherwise got talking to.
Getting the most out of a trade show Tip #9: Fly solo
If networking is part of your goals by attending this expo, consider going it alone. While it’s definitely more comfortable attending events such as expos with a wing-man (or woman), you’re more likely to get talking to new people if you’re on your lonesome. A Single Pringle can be less intimidating for other people to approach than two people or a group who already know one another. Even if you’re attending the expo with a business partner or companion, consider splitting up now and again to make yourselves more likely to get chatting to new faces.
Visiting a trade show Tip #10: Allow plenty of time
Whether you’re attending for one or more days, there’s nothing worse than running out of time and missing out on an exhibit that you were really keen to see. There are always going to be cool and exciting things at an expo that you weren’t expecting to see and that will get you distracted. Do yourself a favour and get there early, so you have plenty of time to make your way around the venue. If you’re coming in from out of town, consider getting in the night before and making a weekend of it!
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