Last weekend, we traveled to warm and sunny Anaheim, CA where we attended the Natural Products Expo and ate all the things. The annual event is a marvel of a trade show, featuring over 3,000 food and beauty brands looking to network and sample their hearts out to over 77,000 attendees. It’s a must-see for basically anyone and everyone, especially folks who enjoy snacks. There were so many snacks.
Speaking of snacks, apparently protein bars made from cricket flour is a thing, and was one of the many organic products featured at the event (chirp chirp!). There was no shortage of organic ice cream, black bean hummus, and freeze-dried fruit, either. And let’s not forget about matcha tea, the super drink of the decade. Also, wine made an appearance because obviously.
Anyway, the point of this blog post is not snacks or wine, although that would be fun. Instead, we’re focusing on something slightly more important – trade show goals and how to stay sane and focused while maneuvering your way through the gazillion booths and vendors that speak to your sample-loving soul.
Here, our top five tips for #winning trade shows:
Prepare: Do your research. Scope out the exhibition list and the convention floor plan, and determine who you absolutely NEED to shake hands with before your time is up. Create a daily plan and come up with a few overarching goals you want to achieve each day. The more prepared your are, the less likely you’ll be to get stuck in trade show limbo and lose your mind.
Pack smart: Do you really need to pack six pairs of shoes? No, you don’t. You need one and you better make sure they’re comfortable. Yes, professionalism is important, but so is comfort, especially when you’re on your feet all day interacting with marketing gurus and brands. We also recommend carrying chapstick and a water bottle at all times. Convention halls can get a little dry – your body will appreciate the hydration.
Pace yourself: Trade shows are a lot like Disney World – long lines, people everywhere, and an excessive amount of happiness (especially when there are snacks). Trade shows are designed to keep attendees busy – from keynote speakers to happy hour gatherings, from fancy conferences to outdoor yoga – there’s a lot to do, and it’s easy to feel like a kid in a candy store. Your daily plan is your holy grail – stick to it, stay calm, and try not to spend the entire day sampling things like Kinnikinnick Foods’ gluten free donuts. That could get ugly. Delicious, but ugly.
Recharge your networking batteries: If your mission is to network with as many brands and vendors as possible, you’re eventually going to run out of gas. One can only charm and delight while sampling mushroom coffee for so long, am I right? Take a breather. Get outside. Meditate. Take a walk around the block. Do some site seeing and explore the area outside the event space. By recharging your batteries during off hours, you’ll maximize on your investment and you’ll walk away with a long list of potential leads.
Have fun & stuff: Trade shows and expos are overwhelming and exhausting, we know. But, like Disney World, they’re also a ton of fun. If you show up with the right tools and a positive attitude, you won’t mind trudging your way through crowds or standing in absurdly long lines. Embrace the time you have out of the office, meet new people, and network your butt off. Not everyone can say they get to travel for work, let alone attend events featuring the world’s leading products and trends. Plus, at the end of the day, you get to witness things like the photo on the right. If that’s not #winning, I don’t know what is.