Getting the Most Out of a Tradeshow

Say there is a big industry tradeshow or conference happening in your city.  There’s no travel involved, so you definitely want to make an appearance at the multi-day event. However, instead of going to the show every day, you decide to buy a single day pass.

How can you make the best use of your time and take full advantage of the opportunity to meet or reconnect with contacts in your industry?

This post is about my best tips for attending a tradeshow.

Make Your Plan

Like everything else in your business, the path to success begins with creating a plan.  I recommend creating your tradeshow action plan at least 6 weeks ahead of the show.

So, what kinds of things should you include in your action plan?

Step-by-Step Tradeshow Action Plan

  1. Clarify what your goal is for the tradeshow, such as how many:
    • new people you want to meet,
    • existing contacts you want to reconnect with, or
    • potential marketing partners you want to meet
  2. Think about how you want to meet with people.  Do you want to meet in person only, or will you also agree to phone meetings to extend your availability?
  3. If you have business partners, discuss who will attend each meeting.  Do all of you   need to be in every meeting, or will you take some or all of your meetings separately in order to meet more people?
  4. Determine how many days you will commit to meetings with tradeshow contacts.  Will you take meetings before the show begins and after it’s over?
  5. Make a list of:
    • all of your existing contacts you’d like to reconnect with at the tradeshow
    • all of the new people you’d like to meet at the show

So far, you’ve planned who you want to meet, how you want to meet, and when you want to meet, and if you have business partners, you’ve decided how many meetings everyone is doing.  What’s next?

It's showtime! Advice on planning for a tradeshow.

Put Your Plan Into Action


It’s time to start putting your plan into action by reaching out to people.  I recommend doing this in 3 ways:

  1. Email everyone on your list of existing contacts who you’d like to reconnect with and who would most likely be attending the show. Let them know which date you will be at the tradeshow and that you are available to meet before and after to catch up. Keep in mind that everyone’s first priority might be the show, so  just the act of reaching out helps to warm up your relationship. Definitely keep open to post-show meetings with your contacts if that works better for scheduling.
  2. What about those new people you want to connect with? Some examples may be companies who are exhibiting on the show floor, speakers or leaders of the workshops. They may be your next best client or partner. Use email to introduce yourself and to ask for a meeting.
  3. Set up a social media campaign for Twitter and LinkedIn and/or any other applicable social networks you’re on.  Let people know you are attending the tradeshow and share some information about the show with your network too.

By mapping out your tradeshow action plan at least 6 weeks before the show, you give your actions time to be productive.  You need time to execute a social media campaign to get the word out, and you need to start setting up meetings before everyone fills their calendars.

These very same steps can be used for industry conferences, one–day seminars and even after-work networking events.

And that’s it; you’ve created and executed your tradeshow action plan.  Now all that’s left is the implementation and execution of your plan.

We’re good at that part.  Let us know if we can help you implement and execute your next tradeshow action plan.

Good luck at the show!

Get the Ultimate Guide Now:



Get the Ask a Fractional CMO Newsletter