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Trade Fairs

In your industry or line of work, is there a significant event or set of events, that you attend to keep up to date with what is going on in your business? They can be in the form of trade shows and all sorts of other forums which bring a heap of people together to showcase new and existing products and ideas. They are also excellent for meeting new contacts and getting your ideas flowing for your business.

Recently I was in Hong Kong for one of the world’s biggest gift trade shows. I was invited as a VIP Buyer, to go and check out what’s on offer and potentially do some business in one of the world’s most significant financial centres, which happens to be the world’s 8th largest trading entity. My time spent at the trade fair, away from all the day-to-day pressures of work and home life, was a real opportunity to absorb myself in the business I have built, and think about little else. That’s why I see it as such a golden opportunity.

In previous years, I’ve wandered around trade events, checked out the new ranges of products, taken and shared some business cards here and there, and gone home with a few new ideas. It’s a tiring exercise, and it can be somewhat overwhelming when you’re in the same room as literally thousands of other people doing the same thing. The sheer number of participants and exhibitors can make it hard to know where to start.

But the experience overall can be highly valuable if you look at it in a constructive way. So, consider these points if you really want to maximise your experience, and try to get the absolute most of it:

1. Business is developed on the foundation of strong relationships.

This is not a myth; it is absolutely true. Developing solid connections with your suppliers and business colleagues will have significant benefits to your business because it means your stakeholders will want you to succeed.

2. All your competitors are likely to be attending these events too.

How can you make the experience more valuable for your business than theirs? Might sound a bit extreme but we must be playing our A Game to win valuable business with our customers, and retain it.

3. Write about it.

This doesn’t need to be a novel or anything particularly structured. Just get some thoughts on paper or a Word doc. The best way to start is to make a list (just like this one) of all the things you hope to achieve or take from the event. Try to also capture your thoughts after it has wrapped up. Things that you thought were excellent, and ideas for your own reference down the track. This process helps to reinforce the learnings, and when you come back to it later, you will remember some things that had slipped your mind.

4. Make an effort to present yourself well.

Nothing is more accurate than the concept that first impressions count. Ensure that you are well dressed and have plenty of business cards to share your brand and contact information.

5. Check out the social pages of your competitors.

Never forget it’s an opportunity to learn about what people are doing in your industry. If they are attending, they will most likely be tweeting about it! Or using any number of other social media sources.

6. Be clear on what you want to take away from the experience.

When I attend a trade show, my main intention is to come away with a clear sense of the gifts I can create over the next 12 months which will delight my customers. For others, the goals/objectives will be different. Sometimes it’s about meeting specific groups or individuals that you know will be attending. Often, it’s both.

7. Get yourself out there.

Make a point of meeting the people that can best serve your business purpose. To do this effectively, a small amount of time invested prior to the event will be well spent. Find out who is attending/exhibiting and plan your experience well. A lot can be achieved in a couple of short days if the process is planned appropriately.

If you are not attending trade shows or conferences in your industry, do it. They are invaluable and worth your time and money. Names become faces, and real connections are made. The exposure and learnings cannot be developed in such a short time frame otherwise.

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