At one point or another, most people in business will attend a trade show. What happens when you attend a trade show depends on what you hope to get from the show and how prepared you are for the event. There are three kinds of trade show attendees.
The most common is what we call the trade show tourist. This person spends their time at the show visiting the sights, taking a few souvenirs from the show floor, and not really learning anything new. The show for them is more a vacation than an information collection event.
The next common type is the learner who is sent by their company. For this person, the trade show presents a wonderful opportunity to catch up on the latest developments in their industry and make connections to peers. This type of show participant comes away with some new tools and applications that they can use. For them, the return is based on who they met and what they learned that they can apply to their daily tasks.
The least common, but best role for the competitive intelligence professional, is the trade show professional. This person sees the trade show as one of the best opportunities to find out what competitors are up to and where the industry is going. The professional has a plan and will take an active role in working the show floor. The trade show professional starts preparing well in advance of the show, identifying key intelligence topics; mapping out their routes; targeting sessions to attend; and setting up key meetings with peers, opinion leaders, and partners.
The next time you go to a trade show, plan out how to maximize what you can learn from such a concentration of peers, providers, partners, and industry experts. Companies spend significant funds to send teams to trade shows, and the greatest returns come when the attendees are well-prepared and come with clear objectives and plans on how to achieve them.
– Erik Glitman, CEO