I went to my first big tradeshow while in graduate school. I was staying on the 16th floor of a high rise hotel in Colorado when the fire alarm went off at 2am. I took it seriously enough to get out of bed and walk down 16 flights of stairs. While standing out in the cold, in my pajamas, I realized that all I had taken out of the room was my chap stick. No laptop, no purse, no wallet, no id, etc… Just my chap stick. Lucky for me, there was no real emergency and I was back asleep in about 15 minutes.
Hopefully you will never need to worry about fire alarms at your next tradeshow. There are three things you can do to make it successful.
The 3 P’s of Tradeshows:
1. Plan: Before attending a tradeshow or conference, spend time reading the agenda and planning your strategy. Some sessions will only be offered once, others repeat, to get the most out of the experience you should have a basic plan of attack.
2. Participate: Be engaged. Take notes. Ask questions. Attend the networking events. Document the action steps you want to accomplish when back at the office. While it may be tempting to see the local sites or relax poolside, remember the true purpose of your visit.
3. Pursue: In order to make it worth your while, you will need to follow through on the action items you identified. Make the follow up calls, implement the ideas, and connect with the vendors and participants you met through social media.
And if you do end up participating in a fire drill, be sure to quickly grab your essentials before exiting the room!