Step out of your comfort zone. Introduce yourself and network. You may see vendors or others you’ve only spoken to on the phone. Collect business cards from the people you meet; jot down notes on the back of their cards to help you remember key points about them.
Find solutions. Make it a point to seek resources and solutions for your problem areas. For example, if you’re consistently having gate issues, talk to the gate vendors and see what solutions they have. Explain the issue, determine who can help, and schedule time to follow up after the show.
No clumping. Don’t spend too much time with your fellow staff or company representatives, especially if you see them daily. You’re at the show to learn from others. Separate yourself from the other staff and schedule time to regroup at specific times or places. Breakfast or a late dinner can be a great opportunity to talk about the show while not consuming valuable event time.
After the Show
Group pow-wow. Schedule time to recap the show with the key players in your company. Let each attendee share his thoughts with the group.
Review your notes and ideas. Create a plan and timeline to implement those ideas within the next 90 days. Do this the first day you’re back in the office. If you wait, you’ll lose the urgency, and a lot of those good concepts (along with potential profit) will fade away.
Reach out. Call or send a note to the people you met and follow up on any action items you discussed. Use this as a chance to solidify new relationships and continue the knowledge sharing.
Get involved. Think about what skills or knowledge you have that could benefit the industry and consider how to get involved at a future show. Maybe you could be a roundtable leader or session speaker. Contact the show presenters and offer your services for the future. Getting involved is a great way to step up your exposure in the industry, enhance your own personal growth, and confirm your commitment to being proactive in your business.
Considering the value and importance of what you can gain from an industry tradeshow experience, it’s a bargain.
Linnea Appleby is president of Sarasota, Fla.-based PDQ Management Solutions Inc., which specializes in the management of self-storage properties and offers complimentary services such as operational consulting, new-facility startup, property audits and the “Income Finder Service.” For more information, call 941.377.3451; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; visit www.pdqmanagementsolutions.com.