Most people in business these days would’ve had varied levels of experience at attending trade shows, be it as a stand holder, or simply as an attendee. Here are some of the things to avoid when attending a trade show.

  1. Let’s see what happens. I cannot tell you the dozens of businesses I’ve met over the last decade who’ve attended a highly expensive trade show without any clear purpose or understanding as to what they intend to get out of it. I appreciate the first attendance at a trade show will always be harder to predict the desired outcomes. However, simply turning up and seeing how things go is a complete and utter waste of your time because it gives you no reference points to measure yourself against at the end of the trade show, therefore minimizing your ability to learn ahead of next year’s trade show.
  1. It’s okay, I’ll just have another coffee. Trade shows are hard work, long hours and require high levels of energy. What your body needs is long term sustainable fuel, not merely caffeine. There’s nothing wrong with one or two pick-me-up coffees during the day, but relying on these as your sole fuel source is limited thinking; besides, having too many coffees in the afternoon will also reduce your recovery time at night, and therefore further tire you the next day.
  1. I’m fine on my own, thanks. As mentioned, trade shows is all about energy maintenance. Attending an important trade show with too few people from your team is also restricted thinking. Not only do you want your other teams members on your stand to feed off their energy, but you also need to be taking a break once or twice during the day in order to recharge or refocus. Too many businesses send too few people to trade shows. If it doesn’t warrant sending multiple people from your team to a trade show, you need to question whether you should be at that trade show.
  1. It’s okay, I’ll eat and drink later. Similar to the over reliance on caffeine, most people don’t fully fuel their body with plenty of water and food during the day, saying that they’ll grab a bite to eat when the stand get’s quiet. You need to pace your energy levels during the day, which means you need to maximize your water intake on a regular basis, as well as your food intake. And that food needs to be energy creating food, not simply the regular snack food served at events around the world.
  1. That’s alright, I’ll wear them in. Wearing uncomfortable shoes or clothing at a trade show event is simply silly. Being on your feet for 12 to 16 hours in a day is tiring enough, but having to wear in shoes or clothing at the same time is overly ambitious thinking.
  1. It’s okay, I’ll catch up on my break. Many stand attendees often have sales or marketing roles or other commitments within the company, and they wrongly take additional work to squeeze in during the day while they’re on a stand. While there are times to look at multitasking, being on a stand for an entire day doesn’t necessarily make for the best time to catch up with sales calls and marketing activities. When you’re attending a trade show, you should remain 100% focused on that task and delegate every other task you possibly can to the rest of your team.
  1. It’s okay, I focus on hot leads. Another common mistake of trade show attendees is to only follow up people who were hot leads on a stand. While it is important to prioritize your focus in business, the true value of attending a trade show are often the lukewarm leads that will convert in maybe 3, 6 or 12 months time. Try doubling your follow-up efforts in order to double your return on investment.
  1. It’s okay, we can plan later. While most trade show attendees don’t plan their stand or steps early enough, most miss the opportunity to plan their trade show for the following year by not doing a wrap up or debrief session at the end of this year’s event. This simply will waste you time, money and cause you stress for the following year. Make sure you learn immediately and you record those lessons and learning, because by the time the next year comes around, you won’t remember anything.
  1. We’ll just see how we go. Similar to tip number one, most people do not break down their objectives into half day portions in order to be able to track and measure the relative success that they’re having during the day. Doing this is a great way to maintain momentum and motivation throughout; avoiding this is a great way to lose momentum and motivation.

So get out there, and do it right!

 – by Ambrose Blowfield