If you’re like most of us in the biz, you’re heading out to (or you’ve already arrived at) the annual NBAA convention in Las Vegas.
A gathering of the aviation and aerospace industry’s top companies, leaders and trendsetters, NBAA is the place to make connections, find leads and close sales with people from across the world.
That is, if you do it right.
You see, visiting a tradeshow isn’t just walking around and schmoozing, as many seem to think. If you want to come out the other side with something real to show for it – leads, purchase orders or even just business cards – it takes a little more effort on your part.
Want to make the most of your time at NBAA or any other tradeshow in your future? Here’s how to get the most bang for your buck:
Take a look at the list of exhibitors, and write down all the ones you’re interested in. Then check out the map, and figure out where each booth is located. From there, you can create a detailed plan of which booth to visit, in what order and when. This will help keep you on track when the days get busy.
Wear comfortable shoes.
Tradeshows require a lot of walking. If you start day 1 in sky-high stilettos, chances are your feet won’t feel so great come day 4. Keep this in mind when planning and packing your wardrobe, and bring at least two pairs of comfortable shoes. They don’t have to be tennis shoes, but ballet flats, comfortable booties or simple Sperrys are usually your best bet.
There’s nothing worse than meeting a real, viable lead, only to realize you’ve run out of business cards. Don’t let this happen to you. Stock up on business cards, flyers, brochures and anything else you’ll be handing out, and make sure to bring a pen and pad of paper. If worse comes to worst, you can simply write down your number and website and exchange info.
Time it right.
If you really want to learn more about a company or product, avoid their booth when it’s busy or packed with people. Come back when there’s a little more room to breathe, and you’ll get more one-on-one attention (and more value) out of your visit.
Most tradeshows operate an ongoing Twitter feed, and attendees will usually tag social posts with a show-related hashtag. Be sure to follow both of these on your phone, so you can keep up with the latest buzz, and if you visit a cool booth, meet a great exhibitor or are just having a great time, be sure to post on your own accounts and join the conversation.
Don’t get caught up.
Sure, it can be fun to connect with people you haven’t seen in a year or two, but don’t let yourself get carried away by the social aspect of a tradeshow. Treat your trip as a business obligation, and avoid staying out late, drinking or sleeping in. Work hard and keep your eye on the prize at all times.
Don’t just visit a booth with the intention of grabbing a brochure and going on your way. Engage the exhibitor’s staff – ask them questions, have them demo a product, or just have a two-way conversation with them. This will 1) give you more info about the company and their services and 2) it will help you stand out in the staff’s mind. These are both things that translate to stronger connections later on down the line.
Always keep a notepad handy for taking notes as you go through the booths. Write down what you learned, what questions you have and any ideas you may have for how you can utilize their product or services. After a full week of tradeshowing, all the booths will start to blend together. You’ll want to go back to these notes when you get home, so be as detailed as possible!
Hope these tips help you have a successful and profitable NBAA experience. See you all on the tradeshow floor!