We get it: Trade shows may seem like a busy, crowded convention center with too much schmoozing and not enough focus on the actual construction industry. But for those ready to put in the legwork, trade shows can provide immense value.
But what, exactly, should you be on the lookout for in order to benefit from a trade show? And how can a trade show provide you with networking opportunities, new trend alerts, and learning opportunities? Here are four ways that contractors and construction industry experts can reap the rewards of trade shows.
One of the key reasons to attend a trade show is, of course, the aforementioned large crowds. Though the number of exhibitors and attendees may feel overwhelming to newcomers, try to look at the crowd as a positive.
After all, how often do you get the chance to speak face-to-face with so many professionals in your industry? You’ll have an opportunity to forge real, personal connections with peers in your industry that can be used throughout the rest of your career.
Come prepared with simple talking points and physical business cards, and make your way around the trade show floor. Strike up conversations and make time to continue your discussion with relevant industry professionals at post-show drinks, or over dinner as a larger group. You’ll be surprised how many people are open to making new connections and eager to share contact information!
Identifying New Trends
Another reason to get in your steps as you walk the floor of the trade show? To identify brand-new trends within the construction industry. Most brands use trade shows as an opportunity to launch new products, and you can be sure that every booth will be putting their best work forward. Plus, many exhibitors come prepared with product samples that you can try out and even take home with you to try out.
Whether you’re looking for something specific (what’s new in flooring this year?) or simply trying to keep your finger on the pulse, you should absolutely take numerous laps around the exhibitor booths. Take notes on your phone or in a notebook, as you’ll likely forget key details. Better yet, take photos (when allowed) of exhibitor names, websites, product information, and beyond! You’ll be able to impress future clients upon your return.
Learn from Industry Experts
Another consideration to keep in mind as you participate in any trade show is to stay open to new information. Trade shows are a fantastic place to learn from others. Whether it’s a new technique for the industry, or simply an expert sharing their decades-long expertise, get ready to learn from others.
Trade shows often have opportunities available beyond the floor exhibits such as panels and even workshops. These smaller, focused spaces can allow you to hear about specific topics from leaders in the field, and meet others with similar interests. After all, construction is a broad field, so it can help to zero in on a niche.
Market Your Own Business
Finally, if you really want to make an impact, consider becoming an exhibitor. Though it can take significant investment up front, and require trained staffing, operating as an exhibitor on the trade show floor is a fantastic way to further all of the above values. Attendees will come directly to your booth to network and discover new trends, and you can present your business in the best light possible.
Additionally, you can see if there are opportunities to speak on a panel or lead a workshop in an area in which you excel. This is another way to get your name out there and establish yourself as a leader in the construction industry. While not every trade show requires this level of participation, consider putting the resources towards an exhibition or a panel once or twice a year so that you make a name for yourself among your peers — and so that future clients view you as a leader in the field.