Tradeshows. Most small business owners either love them or avoid them altogether.
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But under the right circumstances, a tradeshow could be the most important event you attend all year because (like almost everything else) the effectiveness of your tradeshow is entirely in your hands.
One of the biggest misconceptions about tradeshows is that you have to be an exhibitor to make them worthwhile. In fact, nothing could be farther from the truth. Tradeshows present unique opportunities for business owners to interact with industry insiders including vendors, other owners, and even potential clients. If you want to host an exhibit, a tradeshow is the perfect place to do it. But if you don't, you can still reap big benefits from your tradeshow experience. Here's how . . .
The best way to fall short of your tradeshow goals is to not set goals in the first place. Before you get your heart set on a specific tradeshow, take a few minutes to consider what you hope to accomplish.
If you want to introduce a new line of products into the marketplace, then a tradeshow catering to consumers is the way to go. However, if you want to get current on current technology, a tradeshow catering to industry insiders is probably a better option.
Depending on the size of the tradeshow, you might not have time to visit all of the exhibitions. If that's the case, you need to prioritize your time to make sure you see the booths that are most important to you. At the top of your list should be booths hosted by companies that are similar to yours. It might be the best opportunity you have to check out your competition.
Many tradeshows offer seminars, training sessions, and addresses by industry insiders. Take advantage of these opportunities to educate yourself about current events in the field and marketplace trends.
Since some tradeshows offer training on new equipment and processes, you may even want to consider bringing a few key employees along for the ride.
Networking alone is a good enough reason to attend at least one tradeshow a year. Where else are going to find so many people interested in your type of business under one roof?
Although passing out business cards is okay, you'll achieve better results by targeting and reaching out to individuals who are actually capable of helping your company meet its goals.
Let's face it: One of the reasons people attend tradeshows is that they provide opportunities for travel and fun. But while you are having a good time, you can also be giving your company a leg up by building new relationships and strengthening old ones. So instead of feeling guilty about enjoying a little downtime, relax, kick back, and solidify your industry connections.