Tips to navigate your first trade show
Whether you are just an enthusiastic hobbyist, or are running a business with your cutter, attending a trade show or conference can improve your work. Trade shows and conferences are excellent opportunities to interact with many brands and ambassadors in this industry. There are plenty of classes and booths that can give you invaluable information and products to give your projects and products a boost. Knowing what to do at a trade show can be intimidating, so here are some tips to make your time there a success.
How to Find a Show
There are two main ways to track down the right show or conference to attend to meet your needs. You can search shows by what is nearby or by the overall theme of the show.
If you are in an area that has a convention center, you can search the convention center’s website for upcoming shows. Most shows are booked at least a year out, which makes planning your show experience easier. Some areas may have smaller conferences or “pop up” shows in an area. Many of these are advertised in local event pages of newspapers or magazines.
Search by Topic
Trade shows and conferences are done by the overall topic they cover. Here are a few different topics you can look into: Decorated apparel, imprinted sportswear, embroidery, applique, and Silhouette. Quick searches of these topics will show general ideas of these shows. If you have businesses or instructors that you enjoy, most of them will also have a list of shows and conferences that they will be vending or presenting at. (Check out the trade shows we visit.)
How to Navigate a Show
You’ve registered for a show, now what? It’s time to figure out what you would like to cover at the show. Browse the vendor list and make notes of who you would like to see. When looking up new vendors, search their website, social media, and reviews. While every company at a show may say they have the best customer service, the voices of the customers will speak the loudest. Make sure to also visit new vendors that you don’t know much about since this is your opportunity to learn! Most vendors will have demonstrations and freebies, so load your bag with a bunch of goodies.
Vendors love to show you their products and the possibilities that come with them. Visit the booths that you love, but make sure to visit companies you are unfamiliar with. Take the time to see a demonstration and ask as many questions as you can! Most booths will also offer discounted products, so go with a budget in mind and some spending money.
A huge benefit of attending a trade show or conference is that you can gain knowledge and new materials to improve on your business or hobby. Many sessions are offered in a range of skill levels. You can learn a new technique, improve on your abilities, or even get the basics of a new machine or process. Research for hands-on classes at these shows. Not only will you be able to learn the technique by doing, but you can take home goodies! There are so many learning opportunities at these shows, leaving you refreshed and excited to get home and get to work.
Trade shows and conferences are full of people who like the same things as you. It’s like having a giant club of friends put together for you!. These shows are a excellent opportunities to build up a network of like-minded individuals all over the country, giving you people to bounce ideas off of and encourage. Many show attendees will go to multiple shows, allowing you to build up a little community to hang out with.
What to Bring
When going to a show, don’t forget to bring things that will help you. Show days are long days, so you will need to pack things to make it easier on you.
- Comfortable shoes – you will be walking and standing a lot!
- Rolling cart to tote all of your awesome shopping scores.
- Business cards to hand out.
- Pens and notebooks to take notes.
- Water bottle and snacks to hold you over.
- Memory on your phone to take photos and videos.
- Cash – most booths will do a cash-and-carry deal.
Remember to have fun when you attend your first trade show or conference. It will be a bit overwhelming and tiring, but well worth all the information and experience you will gain. Consider it an investment to reach your goals, whatever they may be. I hope we see you at your first trade show!
Here’s some resources to find a trade show or conference near you:
If you’re moving from crafter to opening a business, here are some bigger shows. We’ll be posting a blog on these large shows soon.