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How to Get the Most Out of your Tradeshow Experience

If you’ve ever been to a big trade show like World at Work Total Rewards show or National SHRM you know it’s an exhilarating experience. You also know that it can be a little overwhelming to take in all the new material, visit every booth, network with as many people as possible all the while, trying to fit in a little “you” time.

At big shows like these, you may feel like you’re in the fast lane, but there are ways slow things down to be sure you don’t miss any important details. To help we’ve created a tradeshow guide to assist you in getting the most out of every tradeshow you attend.

tradeshow attendee tips

Before the Show- Plan Ahead

As with everything in life, planning ahead for your tradeshow experience can make all the difference in the world.

  1. Research- Look at the list of speakers and topics on the conference schedule. Also, look at what’s hot in industry news.
  2. Use a session planner to plan which workshops you’ll attend-If there are two sessions you want to attend at the same time, divide and conquer — if you come with teammates, coordinate your schedules to attend a variety of sessions and later compare your notes.
  3. Make a list of questions- Based on the topics you feel would benefit you, make a list of questions to ask the speaker
  4. Be sure to remember to pack everything you need- Some of the most forgotten items on business trips are comfy shoes, a water bottle, mints, noise-canceling headphones, hand sanitizer, stain remover and light snacks. Refer to this list for more packing tips.

At the Show-Make the Most of your Time

Almost every second of your day will be filled, but the biggest advice we could give you is to pace yourself. The Tradeshow News Network reports that the average attendee spends 8.3 hours viewing tradeshow exhibits at a show.

  1. Don’t try to do it all- Make goals for what you’d like to get out each show and weigh all of your schedule decisions accordingly.
  2. Schedule “you” & fun time- Most of the bigger shows are in fun cities like D.C., New Orleans etc… schedule some downtime as well as, make it a goal to experience at least one tourist thing while you’re in town. This could be going to dinner at a favorite local restaurant or going for a quick walk in the scenic park while on lunch break.
  3. Get plenty of sleep and take breaks whenever necessary- You may think this is common sense but when you’re in the middle of the hype it can be easy to forget these little but important things. We load ourselves up on coffee and press the go button, but our bodies need to run on a schedule. Give yourself a bedtime and be sure to bring snacks in case you don’t have time to grab something to eat. If you feel an afternoon slump, walk around. National SHRM does a Fitbit challenge that will even reward you to increase your steps.
  4. Join the community- Follow the show hashtag on social media and participate in the conversation. Tag your photos and status updates with the hashtag.
  5. Take good notes- Even though most sessions have SlideShares that will be available to you after the presentation, it’s still a good idea to write down at least one takeaway from each session you attend.
  6. Become an all-star networker- Bust out of your comfort zone. Go to networking and happy hours. You never know who you might meet. Did you know that LinkedIn reports 85% of jobs are fulfilled through networking alone? After reviewing several articles, we came up with a list of the best networking tips the internet has to offer that will help you to be an all-star networker.
  • Before a networking session write down some icebreaker questions or statements that will establish commonality or personal connection
  • Connect with people in your industry on social media. If you want to find people to connect with, you can also use the show hashtag on Twitter and first engage with them online.
  • One of the number one rules of networking is to be helpful. Remember to offer your expertise and even if you’re nervous, remember to smile.
  • Stay organized by using a networking app. To help here’s a list of the best networking apps.
  • Take notes adding hints to help you remember each person so you can use this list when following up after the show
  1. Don’t miss out on the best SWAG- Tradeshows are a very good time to stock up on awesome SWAG and offer great opportunities to win some stellar prizes. Keep an eye on the show hashtag to see what exhibitors are giving away. If you see several things you want to win or cool SWAG you want, make a list and plan which booths you want to visit.

MTM SWAG & Giveaways for SHRM National


At MTM we want to show you how to have the #BestDayEver. Visiting the MTM booth will offer you smart solutions in employee engagement. Each day of the show we give away a prize. Just drop your business card to be entered to win. In the past, we’ve given away like Yeti Coolers, designer purses, Kendra Scott jewelry and more. Follow us on Twitter to keep updated on what we’re giving away at this year’s National SHRM. Look for us at booth #1655

After the Show

When you get home from the show, you’ll want to act on what you learned while everything is still fresh in your mind.

  • Follow up with connections you made at the show- Send and respond to emails to and from your new contacts. New contacts can open new opportunities for you and your business. This is an essential step you don’t want to skip after you’ve attended a show.
  • Share what you’ve learned- Think of all the people in your office or your industry related friends that could benefit from the new info you’ve learned and share it with them. The more you share or teach someone what you know, the easier it becomes to implement it.
  • Create an action list based on your show research with goals on when to implement each one- Research shows that implementing small goals is the way to make them a part of your daily process. If you have a plan that helps you ease into it, it will help ensure you’re putting what you learned into practice.

If you have any questions about this list or you want to know more about how you can have the #BestDayEver by implementing our smart recognition solutions, let us know. We hope to see your smiling face at the next show.

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