With the return of trade shows, conventions, expos, and meetings, excitement is in the air!
I’m writing this in late April, and recently received my second vaccination. This means I’m getting back on the road, along with most everyone else, shaking hands, kissing babies, and networking. Okay, so maybe no baby kissing, but you get the point.
My last plane trip was in March 2020. Since then, meetings on Zoom, Google Meet, Skype, phone, text, etc. have been my only means of communication. All of these platforms are great, and I’m sure our world has changed forever in many ways because of them. But there is no replacement for in-person interaction. I love attending events, seeing my old friends, and making new ones. Personally, engaging with our “produce family” has always been essential to success, and, quite frankly, a favorite part of my produce life.
Back in 2017, I wrote a story about preparing for in-person events such as trade shows, and then how to maximize our experiences once we’re there. I’d love to take credit for this “2.0” version of that story, but the truth is that John Pandol, the Director of Special Projects at Pandol Bros as well as a friend and fellow “road warrior” who attends events across the globe, suggested it. Thank you, John!
To refresh, a little preparation goes a long way. This is a lesson I have learned the hard way a few times over the years.
In the over 200 industry events I’ve attended, I have seen that if you come adequately prepared, you can do more than just survive, you can actually THRIVE.
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 outcomes, 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.
Packing and Personal Preparation
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 trade show in one piece! Congratulations. Now, it’s “Game Time.”
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!
For our fastidious friends in the era of COVID-19
As we all adjust to new COVID-19 precautions, be sure that you are prepared to take all necessary steps to make yourselves and your fellow attendees feel safe.
While hotels generally clean between guests, there is a difference between cleaning and disinfecting. Guests who want to remain vigilant about coming in contact with germs should travel with disinfecting wipes. But the most practical piece of advice is to wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth after touching a foreign surface.
Friends, we’re on our way! I’m looking forward to seeing you all ASAP!