Trade shows are a plethora of vendors to visit, potential business partners to meet and speakers to be inspired by. In many industries, especially fashion, trade shows are a must-attend event. Whether you will be attending a trade show for the first time or are a seasoned vet, the tips below will maximize your experience as a trade show attendee.
Do Research the trade show
The days before a trade show can be hectic. You’re busy tying up loose ends at work for when you’re gone. Then, there’s making sure your home life doesn’t go to shambles in your absence. Finally, you have to pack and prepare yourself. But, just a little looking into the area you’re staying, finding the best route to the show and best time to leave is key. Maybe your hotel offers a free shuttle or it turns out you are walking distance. The may be relatively small in the grand scheme, but have the power to save you stress or cause major headache. In the end, no one likes showing up to the first day frazzled.
In addition, take a look at the the list of workshops, seminars and social events that will be taking place throughout. It also helps to see who is attending the show and do a little looking into what piques your interest. Apparel Textile Sourcing Miami has their seminars listed here and other shows will have them posted as the date nears. Also, social media is a place where you will find event updates and shout outs for those attending.
This will help you…
Determine Your “Musts”
Don’t get swept up in the chaos of a trade show without a game plan. If you are a designer sourcing materials, then prepare a list of raw materials. If you are a buyer, what looks will your store carry next season? Penning a detailed list will make you feel more prepared look more professional to those you come in contact with. If you have your “musts” ready then make your appointments now so their bookings are not full once you get to the show.
That being said, your musts are not limited to just purchase orders, but also professional development.This is an opportunity to be in the same room as industry leaders that you may not have a chance to with otherwise. And, you never know, one piece of advice could save you thousands. Or, make you millions one day.
Have a Pitch
When a manufacturer asks you about your line, do not go into a long-winded story about the first time you saw the perfect suit in a window display…in NYC…on a cold December day and you KNEW you had to go into bespoke tailoring. Save that for the “About” section on your company website. Some will love to hear your backstory, but read the room. Instead, find a way to fit all the essentials into a curated 30 seconds.
This also comes in handy if you end up in an elevator, lunch table, cocktail bar or any place with someone you have wanted to do business with. They don’t call it an elevator pitch for nothing.
Think Outside the Trade Show
It is easy to think that by maxing out each day at the venue and you’ve experienced all you need to. But, most shows hold events the night of at various venues around the city in which it is held. These events can range from exhibitions, dinners, cocktail hours or after-parties at nearby clubs. It may seem gratuitous after a hard day of hustling, but often these events are where connections are made. Everyone is a little loosened up and you are in a more relaxed environment.
You’ve spent days on end networking, sourcing, filling out purchase orders and walking miles all within confines of a venue or venues. After that, it is easy to go home and sink into exhaustion. But, wait a day or two to let yourself and everyone recover, and then take action and follow up. Even with the most detailed notes, pertinent details will slip from mind as more time passes. LinkedIn, social media and good old-fashioned e-mails are the real MVP’s in helping solidify new connections.
Don’t forget to register for Apparel Textile Sourcing Miami next month! We’ll see you May 21st-23rd in Miami.