Guess what?! It’s trade show season again and as the design industry is gearing up for a few weeks of networking, inspiration and craziness I thought I’d put together my guide to mastering the upcoming trade shows.
Whether you’re a newcomer or trade show pro these helpful tips will make for a productive day as you discover the latest trends and put your networking hat on!
Allow plenty of it! You will need at the very least half a day to explore the entire fair and that doesn’t account for time spent chatting and networking along the way. If you only have 2 hours to get in and out you will miss a fair chunk of it so allow plenty of time. If you have time, research the exhibitor’s list on the trade fair’s website prior to arriving at the fair so you know where you’re preferred suppliers are on the map and who you’ll need to spend the most time visiting. It would also be wise to make a little list either on your phone or notebook so you know where they are in the exhibition hall.
Wear the right attire
You will have walked a few kilometres by the end of the day so ditch the heels and go for the comfiest shoes in your wardrobe. Then the next thing to bring is a cross body bag, which may seem like a weird one but you’ll thank me later when you realise how much easier it is to keep your hands free when you’re taking catalogues and picking up products all day long. You get a big bag at the start of the show to put catalogues in so you don’t need to worry about juggling two big bags at once.
Take business cards along
Hand these out like lollies, I do a tonne of networking at trade fairs and often hand out business cards to not only suppliers but also to other designers and industry peeps who often go on to become great sources of client referrals. It’s not just about seeing new trends and products for me, I get just as much networking out of trade fairs as I do trend and product sourcing.
Stop and hydrate often
Don’t go into the trade fair hungry or you’ll be hangry in no time, stop for regular breaks so you don’t faint from starvation and maybe bring a few snacks to keep you going.
Take a notebook
You’ll see tonnes of new products in one hit, it’s a lot to take in so take a notebook and write down notes of items you love and can refer back to when you’re back at your desk sourcing items for clients.
Take catalogues and flyers
I often refer to these months later when the right project comes up that will suit a product or range I’ve seen previously at a trade fair. Which makes it essential to grab all the catalogues and flyers you can from brands you like to keep them top of mind.
Buy The Next Day
If you’re there to purchase products for your store or on behalf of clients, sometimes it helps to spend two days at the fair. The first day spent researching products, taking catalogues and chatting to suppliers then that evening flicking through the material and making a short list of purchases so you can go back the next day and place your orders without getting too carried away and overspending your allocated budget.
Shop From The Stands
If you have a way of getting the items home or to your office/store, a lot of the suppliers sell off the stands on the final day (usually cash sales) so that they don’t have to pack up as many products. You often get about 20% off the wholesale price and can nab some great bargains!
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