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Trade Show Time Management: It’s Not Really Impossible

The Clean Show can be one of the most effective tools for networking and information gathering in our industry. However, many of us find that every time we go to a trade show, we wind up getting side tracked with conversation about a new item or unique strategy. Then before you know it the show is over and it's time to head home.

When this happens, many of us board the plane home feeling that we have not reached the goals we have set for ourselves of gathering necessary information and / or, meeting with specific individuals. This can leave anyone feeling unproductive.

Fear not. Here are some simple suggestions to maximize your time at the Clean Show.

  1. Define your Goal
    Have a clear goal and know what you'd like to get accomplished. Shows can be large and overwhelming. Are you looking for products, connections or industry trends? By making sure your goals and expectations are clearly laid out, you can maximize time and efficiency when making the rounds at the show.
  2. Form an Attack Plan
    Review all attendee materials and if an exhibitor map is not included, reach out to the organizing committee and they'll likely share one as they have create it for booth tenants. This'll help guide you in your quest to cover the floor. It's also a great idea to build a relationship with the organizers as you may find that they could use you as a panelist or make introductions to people you'd like to meet.
  3. Reach out to Vendors and Prospects
    Set a series of mini-meetings, in advance, at defined times. Hotel lobbies or bars can serve you well as a place to take up residence. You can always rent a suite but if you're not right next to the conference that could affect your success. Properly planned mini-meetings show your desire to succeed, and also reflect a sense of unique thinking and individuality that sets you apart.
  4. Plan Cocktails and Dinners
    Work around the scheduled events. Often time the rubber chicken, industry wide dinner fails to satisfy the attendees. If the industry dinner is at 6:30, get a great table at a hot restaurant at 8pm and invite a select few for a special dinner. Make sure to do this in advance and use this time as chance to build relationships and bond with others from around the country.
  5. Leverage the Expertise of Your Vendors
    Many leave to the vendors to organize entertaining but when their entertaining they're often selling. Use the time when you host to learn about your competition, the best practices they see and the industry trends. Listen deeply. Ask, "Who's doing this best?" "What's the future hold?" and "What's keeping you up at night?" Build on these relationships and you will find yourself ahead of the curve more frequently than not.
  6. Always Be In the Path of your Prospects
    As the crowd arrives be near the door and when the crowd leaves have your conversations near the exit. You'll be surprised how many people you'll be able to catch and reconnect with this way. If you want to meet a speaker on the conference agenda get in their path before they speak. Often the speaker sits in the front of the room talking to no one. Go introduce yourself and let them know you're excited about their speech. After they speak they are usually swarmed.
  7. Advanced Networking
    If the taxi line is huge, get a town car and pull someone from the line who'll share the cost. You'll make a new friend. Often, everyone is doing email in the lobby desperately searching for a power source. Pack a power strip in your bag. Offer to share juice with someone plugged in or invite others. Remember, the conference doesn't begin and end at the show. When you land look for people attending the show and if you can identify them offer to share a ride. In the time after the show between arriving at your airport gate and boarding, stroll the gates to see if people you know are waiting at theirs. Everyone has a travel story to share.

With the right mindset and proper planning, it is easy to set yourself up for success when visiting your next trade show. Stay focused, be prepared and you will find that completing your trade show goals isn't as hard as you once thought it was.

About the Author:
Vince Thompson is author of the upcoming management book "Ignited: Managers Light Up Your Companies and Careers for More Power, More Purpose and More Success." For more information, please contact www.beignited.com

Quick Rinse - News From Around The World

Advance Discount Registration Opens for IHMRS 2011

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — Advance registration is open for the 96th annual International Hotel, Motel + Restaurant Show® (IHMRS) being held November 12 – 15th at New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. A discounted registration fee of $30 is available through October 7, 2011, with the rate increasing to $50 on October 8. The IHMRS present more than 700 hospitality industry suppliers and attract some 30,000 trade attendees The IHMRS website is located here.