Making the Most of Your Tradeshow Dollars: Self-Storage Operators Get Tips for Maximizing Their Conference Experiences

Linnea Appleby Comments
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Tradeshows designed for the-self storage industry provide a wealth of new information, updates on industry trends, education and networking opportunities. They serve many valuable purposes for attendees including professional development and business growth.

But attending an industry event can be costly. Show registration and travel expenses can have a big price tag. Factor in the time you’re away from your business, and it’s no small investment. Is it really worth it? Absolutely.

The key to making the most of your tradeshow dollars is proper planning and good follow-through. What you get out of a conference is directly proportioned to what you put in! How you plan for and follow up on the event will determine how much value you receive. Here are some steps you can take before, during and after to make the most of your experience.
 
Before the Show

Review the agenda. Choose the sessions of interest to you, and then create a schedule. Look for specific opportunities to learn things that directly impact your business. Plan to attend a seminar during every available time slot. Determine which roundtable discussions will benefit you most. Look at specialized sessions that fit your business such as legal seminars or management workshops.

Maximize your coverage. If more than one person from your company is attending the show, split up and attend different sessions. Each person should take notes and be ready to share what he’s learned after the show.

Expand your horizons. Attend at least one session that shows the industry from a different perspective than your own. For example, if you work on the operational side of the business (management), attending a session on the development side could bring you fresh insight.

Meet others. Make a list of the people you want to see at the show and schedule time with them in advance if possible. Set a goal for how many new people you’d like to meet, including industry leaders. Pack plenty of business cards. 
 
During the Show

Stick to your schedule. It’s easy to get sidetracked, skip sessions or change your agenda once you’re there. Only make changes if you really think it will be beneficial. It’s also easy to get distracted by wanting to sight-see or have a good time. To make the most of the show, remember you’re there to learn.

Take notes at the sessions. First, it’ll help you remember everything you’ve learned. Second, you’ll want to share this information with your colleagues. Jot down all inspirations you get from the information presented, even if it’s just a short note to jog your memory later when you can more thoroughly explore the idea. Stay to the end of each session. It’s rude to the presenter to leave early, and often the good information is at the end.

Participate in sessions. Ask questions, and share ideas and information. Seek the people who seem to have the resources or information that could benefit your business. Sessions often encourage participants to open a healthy discussion.

Consider new ideas. Listen to your peers at the show. Different things work for different people. The show is an opportunity to “try on” different concepts for your business and see if they fit.

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