Trade shows are a staple of the construction industry, an essential tool for both networking and product promotion and discovery. Whether you work in construction, mining, earthmoving, or aggregates, attending industry trade shows is never a bad idea. However, they can also be expensive, crowded, and overflowing with information, so prepare in advance by familiarizing yourself with these 7 simple ways to get the most out of attending any construction trade show.
Because the main goal of a construction industry trade show is to share new technologies and services that increase efficiency and reduce downtime, simply showing up to one is an invaluable opportunity for you to find better products, improve your company operations, and grow your business. But before jumping on a plane and heading to a big-time construction show like ConExpo-Con/Agg or World of Concrete, it's important that you know exactly what it is you're looking for.
If you've been reevaluating a product, hardware, or software you've been using in the field and are considering looking for something new, now is the time. Get a full list of any issues you're having with the tools your business is currently using, and jump online to research possible replacements. Many trade shows (ConExpo-Con/Agg, for example) have exhibitor directories where you can easily search for products and services by category.
Go to the trade show armed with your full list of needs. This will expedite your visits to individual exhibitor booths and help you walk away with the information you need and nothing else (except swag, of course).
Study the trade show floor plan and locate the vendors or exhibitors you're already interested in visiting. You can generally find the floor plan on the show website. Large events are always difficult to navigate, and the only thing worse than attending a trade show wearing the wrong shoes is showing up with 10+ booths to visit and immediately getting lost.
Some exhibitor booths become swamped with attendees, making it difficult for exhibitor staff to give equal attention to everyone. Do yourself a favor, and make an appointment. Exhibitors are thrilled to hear from attendees before the show, and scheduling a specific time to visit their booth guarantees you a good, focused conversation and sometimes even a special deal on their product!
Most exhibitors will have sample products available for you to see right there on the show floor. Take advantage of this. Be it some sweet new heavy machinery, a cutting-edge software, or some other innovative service, always ask the vendor for a short demonstration of their product on the spot. You're allowed to do that - it's what trade shows are for. If the exhibitor came unprepared to give you a demo or hands-on experience of some kind, that's on them.
Often, exhibitors will hold larger demonstrations in a group space beyond the booth. Go to these. You're likely to get better information and will get the opportunity to hear questions from other attendees that you might not have thought to ask.
Your time spent on the exhibition floor will likely be loud, hectic, and a little overwhelming. Once you've had a chance to put your feet up in your hotel room for a few minutes, make a plan to attend some smaller networking events being hosted by the exhibitors you're most interested in. A less formal atmosphere makes for easier conversations and if you're lucky, VIP customer discounts.
Trade shows for all industries typically include a slew of after hours activities, including free dinners, parties, and, yes, open bars. This may be a work trip, but don't forget to have fun. It'll help you recharge after an entire day of taking in way too much information.
Oh, and get you some swag too. :)
It might seem counter intuitive, but one of the most productive things you can do at a trade show is to visit the booths representing products and services your business is already using. Whether you have some issues with the product or you're the happiest customer ever, always visit. It's a good opportunity to:
If you're still interested in a product or vendor once you get back to the office, always follow up with the exhibitors as quickly as possible. The week following a show is a good time to:
On with the show!