Surviving industry expos in 7 easy steps

Industry expos are great for meeting new people, opening yourself up to new ideas and possibly sealing a deal or two. But they can be exhausting.

Anybody who’s been in their chosen profession for a while has probably attended an industry expo, and those who have been around longer find expos a hassle.

It’s easy to see why.

At their worst, industry expos can be an onslaught of sales pitches and cheap pamphlets.

These steps below help you play your cards right. With them, you can make the most of having a lot of people in your profession under the same roof.


1. Take more business cards than you think you need


Industry expos are fantastic networking opportunities. There’s nothing worse than reaching the afternoon to find out all your business cards have been handed out that morning!

Everyone attending an expo scratches their heads afterwards, trying to recall all those conversations. The human brain conks out with information overload.

READ ON: Networking for introverts

Having your business card means there’s more chance they’ll remember you.

So take more cards than you need – you can always take the rest home with you.


2. Research the exhibitors before you go


As an expo booth attendant, the absolute worst question you can get is “Oh, so what do you do?”.

That intro is a prompt for them to switch on the spiel about a product or service, eating away your precious time on a sales pitch.

But if you’re clued in on what a company does before you go, you can ask booth attendants some more interesting and valuable questions.


3. Talk to someone right outside your industry


Expos and conferences can deepen relationships with people inside your industry, but there’s value in talking to someone from a completely different industry.

The challenges faced by people in one industry can be eerily similar to those faced in another industry. It’s definitely worth comparing notes.

While it can feel a little like you’re wasting time by talking with no real tie to a business objective, these conversations deepens the learning curve from the event.


4. Tote bags are your best friend


There’s a reason why tote bags are so popular at expos – attendees often end up with piles of stuff.

As companies try to inch their way into your memory banks by providing a physical memento, you’ll end up carrying a lot of things.

Find that person handing out tote bags. They’ll always be there.


5. Hydrate wisely


Expos are marathons, not sprints. It’s important to make sure that you’re loaded up with water instead of complimentary coffee.

This is doubly true for the networking sessions which go hand in hand with these events, and often involve a cheeky vino or two.

It’s best you have a clear head to retain the most information you can out of the event.

Even if you’re an expo veteran and you think you’ve seen it all before, there’s always something new to learn. But this goes pear-shaped when you’re dehydrated.


6. Scope out a good place for external meetings


If you’re lucky to be in town a day or two before the expo or conference begins, it’s a smart idea to scope out nearby bars or cafes for client or supplier meetings.

While conferences have breakout areas where people can chat, getting away from the hustle and bustle of the exhibition floor can be a good thing.

READ: The ABC of getting meetings

If you see a place that’s relatively quiet, comfortable and close to the expo location then you’ve got an ideal spot to keep valuable conversations going.


7. Follow up with key exhibitors


Once you know who’s going to be there (remember Step 2?), it’s important to follow up with them.

Even if you know their product or service, they may be offering a specific expo deal or have new ideas to share.

If they’re an existing supplier, go and say hello at the very least.

It will deepen the relationship, and you never know what sort of interesting conversation may flow.

 

MYOB will be exhibiting at the B2BExpo in Melbourne this weekend. If you’re attending, make sure you head to the stand and talk to the team.