I recently returned from the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. If large crowds, miles of walking (hello new Fitbit badges!), and security hassles aren’t your thing, I recommend staying far, far away. But if being the first to see the newest gadgets, attend entertaining keynotes from industry experts, and collect cool swag sounds intriguing, I highly recommend you attend. (Last year I checked out several 3D printers before they became mainstream and scored a 3D printed version of Ted – how cool is that?!)
Whether you’re a trade show veteran or a show floor rookie, there are a few things you need to know before you go:
1. Location is important. If you are traveling from out of town, book a hotel within walking distance to the trade show location. This will save you time waiting in long taxi lines and help you avoid the headache of running late.
2. Business cards aren’t dead. Even with badge recognition technology, the exchange of business cards is still alive. You never know who you’ll meet and trade shows can be an amazing place to network. Bring a large stack with you.
3. Download the app. Many trade shows have their own free apps. Lost on your way to a meeting? Need to be in the know of last-minute schedule changes? The apps are everything on everyone and everywhere.
4. Get social. Make sure to live tweet or Snapchat the show. Use the conference hashtag to stay active in conversations happening around the event. Don’t be afraid to join those conversations! (And, if you’re there for a client, tweet a photo of their booth and make sure to tag them.)
5. Wear comfortable shoes. Trade shows are not the time to break in your cute Tory Burch flats (note to self). You’ll be walking miles on concrete or carpetcovered concrete. Concrete is concrete, your feet don’t know the difference. Save them the pain and bring a comfortable pair of shoes.
6. Backpacks are a lifesaver. Ditch the unhealthy handbag habit and invest in a backpack. Your shoulder will thank you and you’ll have plenty of room to cart around your laptop, chargers, business cards, swag, water, snacks, or even an extra pair of shoes and a jacket to balance the off-kilter room temps. Charging stations can be hard to come by, so I also recommend bringing a backup power supply for devices.
7. Check out your surroundings. Notice that most trade shows are located in touristy areas? Allow yourself time to explore and embrace the change of pace from your daily grind. Procrastinators beware: The hottest restaurants book up fast, so make your reservation ahead of time if you want a seat.
7.5. Take your vitamins! Did I mention the crowds? Stock up on your Vitamin C and make sure to hydrate.
Trade shows can be crazy, but a little pre-planning helps set you up for success.
Do you have any trade show survival tips? Comment below!