How to Maximize your Tradeshow & Conference Experience
If you’ve ever been to a tradeshow or conference, you know that they can be overwhelming, chaotic, include a ton of walking and talking, and typically require a full body massage upon your return. So why do we keep going? In the end, the people you meet, the connections you make, the industry news you learn, and the speakers you hear always outweigh the cons; and for many, attending these industry conferences end up being one of the best things you can do for your career. They keep you involved, up to date on industry trends, engaged in new technology, and sometimes even help you close that big deal you are working on.
Since I’ve attended many of these tradeshows and conferences, I’ve definitely learned the hard way on what “not to do”. There are many things you can do to ensure you are making the most of the tradeshow and also help maximize your experience (and also save your feet from too much walking).
- Make a plan: The number one tip I share with anyone who has never been to a large conference before is to make a plan. Typically conferences are only a few days, so maximizing your time is very important! Look at the schedule before you go and make a detailed plan with your team so you know where each team member will be at all times.
- Map the floor: This goes hand in hand with making a plan, but make sure you check out the exhibit floor plan before you go, and map out who you want to see, and the best way to see all these people in the most efficient way possible. For example, if you have a meeting at 9:00 am in row A, don’t schedule a meeting in row Z at 9:30 am. The biggest mistake you can make is not checking out the floor plan before organizing your day, and scheduling a meeting with a client on one end of the tradeshow floor, and then scheduling another meeting right after that with a client on the complete opposite side of the floor. The smarter you are with planning out your meetings, the more people you can see in a shorter period of time, and the more your feet will thank you later. Work smarter not harder.
- Make sure there is always someone at your booth: If you are bringing a small team to the tradeshow, it is important to talk about booth duties beforehand, and make sure you have a plan so that there is always someone watching the booth. The last thing you want to do is have a prospect come to your booth and there is nobody to talk to them.
- Download the Tradeshow App (if they have one): A lot of conferences now have apps you can download which are very helpful! On these apps you can see the exhibit floor plan, make notes, see schedules, education topics, and sometimes even make your own schedule. This can be extremely helpful and ensure you you stay on top of everything happening and the people you are meeting.
- Stay hydrated: With all the walking and talking you are about to do, it is important to stay hydrated. The first thing I always do when I get to a conference is purchase a water bottle and try to drink a little after every meeting. It is very easy to get caught up in the day and then get to the end and realize you didn’t drink any water all day. Drinking water will keep you feeling better and more refreshed and also help you stay focused.
- Reach out to the people you want to see before hand and try and schedule a meeting with them: If there are potential clients, clients, or even friends you know will be at the conference that you really want to meet with, always try to schedule a meeting with them beforehand. Nothing is more frustrating than when you go to visit the #1 person you wanted to meet and decided to stop by their booth late in the afternoon on the last day of the conference, and then get to their booth and the lady at the front desk tells you they are in a meeting and booked the rest of the day. If you book a meeting with people ahead of time, you lose the risk of potentially not meeting them at all. Also, when you go to their booth, they are now expecting you.
- Go to Parties: At most of the Real Estate conferences, a lot of the deal making and connecting is done off the tradeshow floor. All the big companies have at least one party where you can meet key people at that organization in a casual setting over a few drinks. A lot of times you need an invitation, so if you know somebody at some of these larger companies, don’t be scared to ask them about their party.
- Wear comfortable shoes: This one is more for the ladies, but make sure you wear comfortable shoes! Don’t wear your 5 inch stilettos because they look great with your dress – you will be miserable and will not last the entire conference day. Most of the time when I go to conferences, I end up walking at least 10,000 steps a day. Do yourself a favor and wear your comfy shoes – they may not look as stylish, but you will be happier at the end of the day, and will also get way more done.
- Don’t overcommit: Last but not least, do not overcommit yourself. The last thing you want to do is schedule back to back meetings for every single day. Give yourself some time to mingle and walk the tradeshow floor, and make sure to give yourself at least 30 minutes for lunch.
- And Most Importantly, Go to Parties! 🙂
Come meet The REthink Team!
The REthink team will be attending and exhibiting at both ICSC and CRE Tech in New York December 5-7th. If you plan on attending either of these conferences, we would love to meet you there! To schedule a meeting, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
We hope to see you there!