Make The Most Of ITEX 200118 Feb, 2001 By: Brady Barrett imageSource
Make The Most Of ITEX 2001
I was standing in line at the base of the snow covered downhill ski bowl. Three feet of fresh power was waiting for my skis to whisk across the virgin surface. I stood in keen anticipation waiting for the ski gondola to take me to the top of the ski run.
Out of the corner of my eye, I spied the strangest sight. My full attention quickly focused on a figure emerging from the trees. He was wearing a snorkel, mask, 24 inch swim fins and a pair of school bus yellow Speedos. The temperature at the base of the ski lift was hovering in the low teens. This man looked very uncomfortable and out of place. He seemed to be caught in a mystery vacation gone wrong. I could not imagine what strange set of circumstances had caused him to arrive so ill prepared to the ski slopes.
I have experienced this same sense of perplexity when viewing convention attendees. Women arrive wearing three-inch high heels and movement restricting straight skirts. Men wear hard sole shoes and three-piece suits. Both are in pain after a few minutes on the show floor. Dark tinted sunglasses, tight fitting clothes and an absence of reading glasses add to the convention goers misery.
These same people bring two business cards and nothing to write with. They lose their admission pass and forget to bring their credit card for hotel check-in. To the convention itself, they arrive 45 minutes before the show closes and have no plan as to who or what they hope to see.
Planning For A Great Convention Experience
Make the most of the ITEX show February 7-9, by planning. For those of you who have never attended a business expo, here are a few hints to maximize the knowledge to be gained and enjoyment to be experienced by attending a business show.
There will be all day educational presentations on Wednesday, February 7. These workshops require pre-enrollment. You can enroll on line www.itexshow.com or by faxing (954) 581-0815 or calling (800) 989-6077. If for some reason you show up on Wednesday without pre-enrolling, there may be some last minute cancellations. Go to the registration desk and ask if you can enroll.
Wednesday’s events include a luncheon. Take advantage of this opportunity to sit at a table with people you don’t know. Introduce yourself. Ask a few general questions: “What products do you sell? Where is your business located?” Before you know it, a little small talk can turn into making a business contact that will help you out in the future.
Using Your Business Card
Give everyone your business card. Most will reciprocate by giving you theirs in return. When appropriate, make notes on the back of the card for future reference. As you meet new people, group their cards separately. Identify those people you want to immediately contact upon your return to work.
Keep all the cards you receive at the show. Store them in a convenient spot back at your office. You never know when you might need the services of one of these casual acquaintances you made during the ITEX show. If you are the organized type, you can separate by product sold or location of the business.
Set a personal goal as to how many business cards you will bring home from the show. Making new contacts is a very important element of attending an industry event. You can make dozens of meaningful long-term friendships through random meetings at business shows.
As a writer and speaker, I am always delighted to make personal contact with those who read my columns and attend my educational events. Often fellow attendees share an idea for a future column or ask a specialized question. I encourage any of my readers to just come up and say hello.
Planning What To See And Hear
Ideally, before arriving at the show look over the ITEX catalog. Review the educational events that are offered. Look over the list of speakers, topics and vendors. Dog ear the pages, circle those items of interest. Use Post-It notes to identify those must-see speakers and exhibitors. The ITEX catalog is ideally sized to slip into your pocket or purse.
On each day of the show, review your notes. Take a moment to review the items you circled or dog-eared. On your way to your chosen event, it is OK to be sidetracked and attend a presentation that catches your interest at the last moment. Be bold. Attend a seminar that you know nothing about. You have nothing to lose except your own ignorance.
As the new technologies flows into our industry, take advantage of the opportunity to share an hour of your time with an industry expert. During question and answer periods, speak up and ask an industry authority a question that has been racking your brain. Be a participant. The question that you have formed in your mind will probably be of interest to the other members of the audience.
At the completion of each presentation, take time to fill out the comment sheet. Your candid thoughts will enable ITEX show planners to better accommodate your needs and concerns for future events.
Before entering the educational programs or show floor, you must be registered. Read the overhead signs carefully before you choose a line to stand in. There is no need to slow down the registration process by standing in the wrong line. Better yet, sign up in advance at www.ITEXshow.com, or by fax or mail.
Display your name (admission) badge for easy visibility. You will be able to quickly move in and out of the convention floor and educational events without being queried by the door attendant. You will also enable the vendors to more easily respond to you by name and business location.
When you enter the convention floor, have a plan. Even if you plan to just wander around, wander in a systemic pattern. It is very easy to miss an entire section of the show or you wind up walking down the same two aisles three times.
Exhibitors want you to come into their booths. These vendors are there to meet with you. Some first-time attendees may find it intimidating to walk into a booth void of any other attendees. Walk right in. The exhibitors are waiting there just for YOU to walk in.
It is acceptable convention etiquette to visit a booth you know nothing about. “What do you do?” is an acceptable question to ask any exhibitor. Upon listening to their answer, you can smile and walk on, or step in and ask a few more questions.
Most vendors are attending the EXPO to gain exposure and new customers. As an attendee, look for new products to help make your company more profitable. Be on the lookout for items that may interest your customers.
It is acceptable to walk into a vendor’s booth and eavesdrop on a conversation that is in progress. You can also ask questions in the middle of someone else’s demo or conversation. It is like a big old-fashioned party line. One for all, all for one.
Once you are in a booth, if you meet another attendee who is of interest to you, talk to him or her. It the conversation is going to be prolonged, or the booth is crowded, the two of you should move out of the booth to continue your conversation.
Exchange your business card with everyone. Bring four times as many business cards as you think you might need. The most commonly repeated statement at any a convention is “I ran out of business cards.” Followed closely by “Do you have a pen?” You will be able to pickup a free pen in many booths, but business cards are not so easily acquired.
Many vendors will offer free giveaways or contests. If you want their prize, be prepared to listen to a little bit about their product. Most vendors will require a business card for you to qualify for that free T-shirt, hat or drawing eligibility.
As part of your ITEX attendance, lunch will be provided on the show floor each day. Take advantage of the FREE LUNCH. Rest your feet, have some food and visit with someone you have never met. Feed your body and mind at the same time.
Speaking of resting your feet, wear shoes that are appropriate for a 5K run. Fashion must take a backseat to comfort. Clothes that are loose fitting and have several pockets are ideal. Las Vegas is a casual sort of town by day. There is no need to dress up to attend the ITEX show.
The weather in Las Vegas is likely to be warmer than wherever you are coming from. The Tropicana Convention Center is climate controlled. For those who made your reservations early, there is no need to ever leave the hotel.
Make the most of your ITEX experience by planning ahead, wearing comfortable shoes and clothing. Bring one hundred business cards. Meet new vendors. Make new friends. Learn innovative ways to stay ahead of your competition. I look forward to meeting you at ITEX 2001.
Brady Barrett submitted the preceding article. Brady has many years of experience in the copier industry as a highly regarded sales and service manager. His opinion is based on the many Trade Shows attended in the last 20 years.
The opinion and views of this writer may not be that of The Image Source.