As a tech guy, trade shows are a part of the job that I never would have thought about in College. It’s possible (and unfortunately too commonplace) to just book your travel, show up, stand at a booth, and then travel back home. At Indium Corporation we make sure to take some time up front to maximize the ROI for the time we spend at the show. If you're interested from a Marketing Communications standpoint, you might want to check out Rick Short's B2B Marcom blog. But if you’re a tech guy, in any industry, try these simple tips to get the most out of your next trade show.
1) Plan. Know what presentations you want to attend, what booths you want to visit, and which customers you want to meet up with. Give your customers a call the week before to see when it would be convenient to meet with them. They will appreciate not being squeezed into your schedule.
2) Listen. Get to the tech sessions and learn. When you are interested, meet the speaker and ask questions after the session. This will be better for you than any published article you’d read throughout the year.
3) Write. Don’t forget paper and a pen! From a customer’s point of view, if you’re not jotting down notes about my application – I don’t believe you really care. From a presenter’s view – if you’re not taking notes then you must not be interested in what I am saying. Respect your peers and keep a note pad handy.
5) Enjoy. If you have some vacation time and the trade show is in a location you’ve never been, take a few days to relax after the show. The travel plans are as simple as the initial work travel, but you have the advantage of enjoying the perks of travel - like seeing new places - without any extra flight.
Good luck, I hope you end up getting a lot more out of your trade show experience!