The year was 1989, I had just wrapped up at PMA Fresh Summit in Reno, Nevada. The day after my return, I was sitting at my desk and the big one hit. The massive Loma Prieta earthquake shook my world at 5:04 p.m. on October 17th. It’s not something anyone could ever forget, and in the days that followed I learned the true value of preparation.
In the 200 or more conventions that I’ve attended since, I have seen that if you are adequately prepared you can do more than just survive, you can actually thrive during these things—conventions, that is.
In planning and preparing for conventions and trade shows, where does one begin? The end is a good starting point. Know your organizational and personal desired end-results, and work backwards from there. How are you, your boss, and your company going to measure return on investment (ROI)? What are the key performance indicators (KPI) for the show? If your company doesn’t have a formal strategy, get in the habit of developing your own.
And above all, keep a checklist. Strike that, keep a few checklists.
While the fine folks of our industry provide a rip-roaring time at these trade shows, they are still, at the core, business events. Planning begins well in advance, and these are just a few of the things you can do to make sure you have crossed your T’s and dotted your I’s to get the most ROI from attending.
While appearance is by no means the most important facet of your performance, it is the factor you have the most control over. Be prepared to look and feel your best to set the foundation for a successful event.
You’ve made it to the tradeshow in one piece! Congratulations. Now, it’s “Game Time.”
In conclusion, remember, you are always working at an event. Prepare to be your best self at all times, as chance meetings in elevators or lobbies can be the best. Be realistic with your goals, and make sure to set a follow up with your contacts. And, of course, have a great time!
Rex Lawrence, Founder and President of Joe Produce, was born & raised in Salinas, CA. His 28 years in the produce industry includes positions in senior sales, marketing & management for some of the industry’s leaders. Rex and his team truly understand that finding the perfect “fit” is about more than matching a skill set with specific job requirements.