You’ve decided to attend a trade show, now what? Too often the plan for attending a show is four parts, 1.) Register 2.) Get a room 3. Arrange travel 4.) Walk the show floor. Not much of a plan is it? If you want to get your money’s worth out of a show, you need a plan that’s longer than the four steps listed above. You need a plan to walk a trade show.

Know What You Want

Have a clear cut understanding of why you’re attending the show and who you want to meet. Are you there to identify new customers, check out vendors, or learn what the competition is doing?

Choose the Right Show

Once you know what you want, pick the best show(s) to meet your needs. What are the seminars and  events? What customers, vendors, and potential clients are attending?

Book the Event Hotel

Book the hotel hosting the event, or if it’s hosted at a convention center the nearest motel. For big shows, this will mean booking it early before it sells out, and you might even get a discount. It not only will it make it convenient to walk a trade show, but you’ll be where the action is as far as non-event activities.

Dress for Success

Don’t only dress for success but also for comfort. Plan ahead to bring clothing that is appropriate and professional as well as shoes and other apparel you will be comfortable walking in for hours at a time. What to Wear at a Trade Show and What to Leave at Home.

Set an Itinerary

Procure a show floorplan, make a list of who you want to visit, and then map it out. Take into consideration how many days you’ll attend the show and the number of hours per day you’ll be available. Also, make a note of seminars and workshops you want to attend.

Bring Collateral Material

Pack more business cards than you think you’ll need but also bring brochures, one-pagers, and case studies. It’s better to have too much than too little.


If other teammates are attending the show form a team and create a game plan. Divide responsibilities from who will bring what items to the show, to assigning vendors to visit.

Follow up

Don’t leave connecting with show contacts to chance. To begin with, don’t only hand out your business cards but gather contact information, and then form a plan for follow up. You might find it helpful to rank contacts by importance or urgency of follow up, and to make notes on what you discussed.

Walk a Trade Show this Way

By following the eight points above, you’ll maximize any show you walk because you’ll be prepared, organized, and focused. Or you could just do what you’ve always done and wander the show. Which do you think will bring the best results?

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