There are many reasons to attend a trade show if you are a small business owner. Primarily, business expos allow small businesses to meet and network with one another, as well as to meet suppliers and possible customers. Even if your business is struggling, business expos can be a good idea. It may be necessary to close shop for a day to invest time in business expos in order to more fully reap their benefits.
Of course, you should plan ahead once you decide to attend business expos. Knowing what to focus on can help you maximize your time and make the most of your investment. Create goals with regard to how many vendors you want to visit, what you need to purchase, including giveaway items, also known as swag, and what products you want to see and learn more about.
Be conscious of your inventory. If you want to group orders to offer discounts and other special offers, remember your budget and understand your limitations. If you know of a specific vendor you want to meet, make sure to set a time to do so during the show. Bring employees who are smart, attractive, and personable, who won't get tired easily, and who don't shy away from crowds.
If attending out of town business expos, check for discounted hotel rooms offered by trade show organizers. Try to book in advance to get a better rate, and it may help to stay nearby the expo center to avoid schlepping tables, chairs, and signs at the last minute.
Remember to bring a bag to store the literature you accumulate throughout the show. Look presentable and remember to be the face of your company. Bring a pen and notebook to take notes if necessary, and make sure to have plenty of business cards - you will be giving them away to almost everyone you meet.
If there are any presentations or workshops, by all means attend them. These educational aspects of business expos are a large reason as to why many people participate. Try to only talk to people whose business interests you, or with whom you could possibly share networking connections. Don't linger unnecessarily.
Finally, judge whether your time was well spent. If you followed your plan of attack you should feel like it was and hopefully, that you've met all your goals. Good luck and remember, you get out what you put in.