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In many ways, visiting a trade show can resemble going on vacation.

November 01, 2000

In many ways, visiting a trade show can resemble going on vacation. Besides spending time out of the office with friends and in new parts of the country, it's also important to plan your time carefully. It's impossible to see everything that's offered with a limited amount of time and energy, so planning a schedule before arriving at the show site can guarantee that the show's information and events are worth the cost of travel and registration. Bryan Patchan, the NAHB's director of industry communications in public affairs, recommends the following:

  • As soon as possible, determine goals for the show. For most remodelers, these goals fit into three categories: product information, business education and social networking. In each of these areas, determine the most important elements and arrange your time so you'll be able to attend to them all.

  • For product information, spend time with the preliminary program and on the Internet figuring out which exhibitors' booths you'll need to visit. Some manufacturers will display new products, some of which might already be used in your business. Make a list of questions and then highlight ahead of time where the booths are in the hall so you can walk the floor effectively without missing any of your important contacts.

  • Most shows publish a detailed list of educational seminars well in advance of the show date. Ask yourself what subject areas your business needs the most help in, and then figure out which seminars might best offer tools for you in those areas. Highlight those as well, and divide your time during the day between the educational events and the show floor.

  • Numerous social events often fill the evenings at industry shows. Don't make your schedule so full that you might miss obligatory events, but make sure you also attend those events that you think might offer the most appropriate new contacts for your business. Leave free time to spend with friends and colleagues, too.

  • If you're a manager for your company, you might want to cross-reference your planned schedule with that of the other employees you're bringing to the show. You can make sure two people aren't at the same seminar or event, thus wasting time, and you can also make sure that no employee is left without goals to accomplish at the show.
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