Trade Show 101

Tradeshow 101: How to Maximize your Experience as a Trade Show Attendee

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.


Determine Your “Musts”

It is easy to get lost in all the chaos at a trade show so it is crucial to have a game plan. If you are a designer sourcing materials, then prepare a list of what you need for your designs. If you are a buyer, what looks will your store carry next season? Penning a detailed list will make you feel more prepared and in turn will also make you look more professional with vendors. Since you are so prepared and know exactly who you want to see, make your appointments now so that way their bookings are not full once you get to the show. Your musts are not limited to just purchase orders but also to seminars, meetings, etc. Great speakers and industry leaders that you may not have a chance to be in the same room with otherwise, will giving out valuable advice. You never know, one piece of advice could save you thousands or make you millions one day.


Have a Pitch

When a vendor asks about your business will you panic because how can you possibly fit the entire story of the inspiration for your clothing line in a few sentences? No not you since you perfected your pitch in advance! 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 Itself

The trade show itself will have you running to and fro for days on end. 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. Just remember, after a few glasses of wine, do not forget to exhibit decorum.


Follow Up

You’ve spent days on end networking, sourcing materials, filling out purchase orders and walking miles all within confines of a venue. It is easy to go home and sink into exhaustion, BUT before the sooner you take action and follow up the better. Even with the most detailed notes, after being thrust back into your daily routine, pertinent details will slip from mind. In addition, vendors and new contacts are doing the same and you want to remain fresh in their mind to solidify your new connection. Linkedin, social media and good old-fashioned e-mails are the real MVP’s in this instance.


The obvious trade show recommendations are usually being to get rest, wear sensible shoes, don’t forget your business cards etc. While all sound advice, these hot tips will make you a trade show pro. Many attendees spend their first show figuring out exactly how the show works. Follow this advice and avoid those rookie mistakes.

Author:  Christine Duff

Christine wants to live in a world filled with cutting edge fashion, beautiful words and and an endless supply of leather jackets and boots. A product development grad of FIDM, she was the Editor-in-Chief of MODE Magazine where she reignited her love of storytelling. She has diverse experience within the industry with trend research, art direction and styling editorial spreads. She gained her most notable experience working in Los Angeles at the satellite operation for GQ and Vogue Thailand. Christine is passionate about social science and the role it plays in the consumer goods industry and apparel in particular.

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