Trade Shows: Are you just replenishing your pen supply?

In the last 3 weeks, I have staffed a Clovis Chamber booth at four trade shows. Were they worth it? Between the four events, we've signed up 19 new members. I also drummed up a great deal of interest for our Speed Networking event and distributed boxes of Clovis Chamber member directories. Definitely time well spent.

What about you? Do you go to trade shows for the door prizes, free food, and entertainment? Or do you have a clear purpose? If you don't know what to do at a trade show beyond pick up free pens, here are a few thoughts:
  • Reconnect with some of your long lost contacts. Trade shows attract a lot of people - there's got to be someone among all those people whom you've lost track of.
  • Pick up on business trends. Take out the program/directory and see which industries seem to be thriving ... and which aren't.
  • If you're not buying, at least you're learning about products and services you might need in the future.
  • Get your name out there. While it's cheesy to sell yourself to the vendors at a trade show, toss your business card in their bucket. They'll look through the cards and at least learn a little bit about your business.
  • Find unexpected opportunities. I discovered that there is a new trade show coming to the area that needs speakers on a range of topics.
Do you have any trade show tips or observations? Let me know.

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