It is time for some new running shoes.  In the past month, I attended two major trade shows after speaking to the particular industry association.  First, I was humbled to speak to the Kentucky chapter of USGBC on the ASHRAE 189.1 standards and the International Green Construction Code, as well as some of the top legal risks in green construction.  Afterward, I walked for about three hours through the AIA-CSI Mardi Gras Trade Fair.  Next, I was humbled to speak at the AGC National Convention on social media business development tips and legal risks for contractors.  Afterward, I ran for about 6 hours through the miles-and-miles of exhibits at CONEXPO/CON-AGG

As I walked around these two trade shows, I made a few observations about the people, booths and information presented by the companies in attendance. 

  • People love giveaways.  This may not seem like a big deal to you or your company after having shelled out thousands of dollars to attend and host a booth at one of these shows.  However, your booth will see a lot more traffic if you have some incentive, enticement or … let’s just say it … an iPad to give away. 
  • Eye contact is important.  Whether you are manning the booth for your company or you are walking the floor trying to decide where to stop, eye contact is the first meaningful connection that you will make.  I cannot tell you how many booths I strutted right past because the person sitting (…not standing…) behind the booth was either reading something, texting on their phone, or simply not paying attention.
  • A smile invites a meaningful connection.  Again, no matter which side of the booth you are on, a smile can make all the difference in the world.  As a construction lawyer, I am not sure how much these vendors or suppliers want to chat with me.  In other words, I am not looking to purchase a new excavator or concrete product.  However, it is about making connections with people in the industry.  If I cannot help them, perhaps I can find someone who can help them.  

In the end, trade show connections are kind of like speed-dating.  You may be selling products, services or expertise.  You only have a short amount of time.  Give them a smile … a genuine introduction … and make a meaningful connection.