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Published October 13th 2014

Always Be Prepared: 12 Top Tips for Attending a Trade Show

Attending a trade show can be overwhelming for attendees. There are usually more booths to visit than time during the show so the way to be able to see ...

Attending a trade show can be overwhelming for attendees. There are usually more booths to visit than time during the show so the way to be able to see everything you want or need to is by getting prepared ahead of time.

Advance preparation for your trade show should include appointments, a checklist, show floor map, and a schedule. Here are specific tips for each of those ways to prepare for the next trade show you attend.

Set appointments ahead of time


Check and see if any of your vendors only see attendees by appointment only. Make those appointments as early as possible so that you can be sure you won’t miss them and so that you can get your preferred time.


If possible choose the first or the last appointment of the day so that you can plan the rest of every day around those appointments.

If you have to make appointments throughout the day, leave time in between in case the run over and leave at least one day to walk the trade show floor.

Get a map of the show floor


Almost every trade show offers maps ahead of time so that you can plan out where each vendor you want to see is at for the most efficient plan throughout your days at the trade show.




Once you have all your appointments set, make a schedule that includes all of the vendors aisle by aisle starting from one side of the trade show floor. Refer to your schedule periodically throughout the day so that you can stay on track and see all of the vendors you want to.

While you are at it, be sure to schedule your time after the trade show is over each night. Meeting with vendors or fellow attendees for dinner or drinks after the show is great for networking.

You also should schedule in some time to do some homework each night after the show.

By homework, we mean reviewing each of the vendors you saw that day, comparing notes and compiling ideas for possible orders so that you can take advantage of trade show specials during the show rather than waiting until after it is over to place your orders.

Always schedule some extra time because you are bound to run over some appointments or might take a little longer to see something new and meet someone.


Create a checklist


Lastly, you should have a checklist of all your must see vendors and must do events during the show. That way you can be sure not to miss any of the things you want to see at the show.

Refer to your list at least once a day to make sure that you are on track and not missing any of the important things on your list.

Re-evaluate your list the night before the last day at the trade show and see if you need to revise your schedule and re-prioritize your day to make sure that you see the vendors you need to before the show ends.

Here are some other ways to prepare in advance for your next trade show:

  1. Pack Extra Clothes and Shoes: You never know if you might decide to wear something different or need to change to keep looking your best. Rather than worry about laundry during a trip, have some extra clothes packed just in case. Always bring extra shoes and remember that trade shows require a lot of walking, so wear comfortable shoes.
  2. Bring an Extra Duffle Bag: You will pick up catalogs, promotional products, and possibly even purchase merchandise that you can take with you at the show, so you will need an extra bag to get them home. Even though you have the extra bag, ask to have catalogs mailed whenever possible. It is easier than having to pack them, get the home, and then unpack them.
  3. Bring Your Own Branded Gear: Trade show booths are famous for giving away promotional gifts. However, you can come with your own promotional products to show off your brand in the form of branded shirts, promotional portfolios and conference bags, and many other products that have your logo and name on them. Be sure to have a pen and notepad to take important notes.
  4. Business Cards: Have your business cards ready and hand plenty out to everyone you meet.
  5. Wear Your Name Badge Proudly: Make sure that your name badge is easily seen so that vendors can see it and remember you by. Wear your name badge on your right shoulder so that when you meet someone and shake their hand, they can see it very easily.
  6. Stay on Budget: Keep track of all your purchases so that you can stay on budget.
  7. Don’t Forget to Smile: When meeting vendors and other colleagues, a smile goes a long way towards making a lasting, positive impression.
  8. Follow Up: After the show is over, be sure to keep in touch with your contacts, send out LinkedIn invitations and follow through with your new connections.

Sure, attending trade shows can be stressful, but following our tips will help you be relaxed and organized.

Preparing in advance can ensure that you have a smooth, efficient and productive trade show. Even if there is more to do than time in the day, your trade show will be the best it can be and make it worth your time spent there.

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