- Start planning your trade show experience by keeping the end in mind -- what do you want to accomplish?
- Execute your plan by keeping yourself on track every day of the trade show and realigning when you stray.
- Pick a handful of actionable strategies and implement them immediately -- this will ensure you get your return on investment from your trade show experience.
Having attended more than 50 real estate industry trade shows over the past few years, I know firsthand how daunting and overwhelming the information overload can be. With so many new technologies, ideas for running your business and bright minds to help spark your own ideas, trade shows can become difficult to absorb.
With a solid game plan and mission for your trade show experience, you can walk away knowing that:
- You’ve accomplished your goals
- You’ve networked with some of the industry’s smartest leaders
- You have actionable takeaways that you can begin implementing in your business immediately
Here’s how you can get the most out of any trade show or exhibition hall.
Step 1: Start with the end in mind: What do you hope to accomplish?
One of the biggest challenges of attending trade shows is managing the information overload. The balance of excellent and hyper-intelligent presenters, new tech in the exhibit hall and the influx of new faces can be tough, but knowing what you hope to take away from those interactions beforehand is key.
Before you head off to the event, ask yourself the following questions and write them down:
- Why have I chosen to attend this event? What specific goals do I hope to accomplish as a result?
- What challenges am I currently facing, and what process or tech solutions might fix them?
- Who are the ideal types of people who I need to network with to achieve my goals? Define what these people look like — you don’t have to be specific, but it will help to have a rough idea of who you want to meet.
- Where (logistically) are those individuals going to be in relation to my schedule?
- How am I going to initiate those conversations and structure them in ways that I will feel productive and efficient?
Answering these questions honestly and critically is the key to being mentally prepared for the event and will set you up for a successful experience.
Step 2: Execute your mission
You or your company probably paid a decent amount of money for you to attend the event. The reason is obvious: There is so much value in the information and teachings available that it will greatly exceed the monetary expense of the event. Take advantage of that.
Every morning, afternoon and evening, benchmark your day against the outline that you’ve created in Step 1. Did you meet 5 people who are, in some way, going to help you with your business and mission? Did you attend sessions that will directly impact your processes? Have you fulfilled your WHY?
If at any point in your day you have answered “no” to those questions, make adjustments immediately.
The trade show environment is a demanding one that offers a lot of distractions, but as long as you’ve identified where the mark has been missed you can quickly tweak your game plan and execute against your goals.
Step 3: The hardest part — ACT
This is easily the hardest part of attending a trade show. You’ve outlined your goals for the event, you’ve executed against those goals and have a wealth of knowledge scribbled on event agendas and notebooks. What now?
Pick three actionable takeaways and do them. Immediately.
Your attendance is only as valuable as the actions you take afterwards based on what you’ve learned. While the travel and catching back up with the day-to-day can be burdensome, it is critical that you pick actionable items that you can implement right away and begin to see results from.
Some things might be as simple as switching the app you use to manage email — and some items will take more time, but you can still get the ball rolling.
However big or small the items may be — implement them or start laying the groundwork immediately so you can look back and say with confidence, “Yes, that event positively impacted my business.”
Each event is different, and each delivers a unique experience. It’s important to objectively look at your game plan, execute your goals and then implement the key takeaways that you’ve identified using your plan and goals.
To navigate the trade show season’s waters this year, download this guide to help you plan, execute and implement before, during and after every event.