Maximizing Truck Show Visits

David Kolman

Along with being able to see and learn about the latest and greatest in equipment, services and technology, truck shows offer the opportunity to meet face-to-face with suppliers and vendors. Furthermore, there are opportunities for networking and education, as well as the chance to see old friends and make new ones.
Planning and preparation are essential to most effectively use your time at any truck — or industry — trade show. Here are some tips for making your show visits less exhausting yet more productive and rewarding:
Prior to a show
• Determine your goals and objectives for attending the show.
• Go through the show’s list of exhibitors and activities and plan in advance which you want to see and participate in. Use flags to mark pages in your show guide and highlight entries for easy reference.
• Organize your to-do list into two parts: must see/do and want to see/do, and prioritize each.
• Determine what information you want to get from each exhibitor you plan to visit. Bring along a written list of questions, concerns, problems, etc.
• Make appointments with those exhibitors you really want to meet with.
• Decide on the amount of time you want to spend at the show, then figure how much time at each booth. Be sure to factor in extra time for browsing, distractions and waiting around to talk with someone.
• Study the show’s floor plan/map, note where your targeted booths and activities are located and figure out the most direct routes to accomplish your plan of attack.
• Use a highlighter to mark your routes, and cross out the booths you visit to avoid duplication, which wastes time.
• Bring along plenty of business cards.
At the show
• Don’t stop at booths where the product or service is of no benefit to you, no matter how interesting it may be. This takes time away from more important booths you could visit or people you could talk to.
• Take along a notebook and pens or a small tape recorder to make notes as you go. It is easy to experience information overload. You might also want to bring along a camera and extra film.
• Collect only information that is of interest to you. Don’t load up on all the free stuff — you’ll only lug it around all day and possibly throw most of it away later.
• Request that literature be mailed to you. This will avoid you having to carry it around with you all day.
• Take a light, comfortable shoulder “carry-all” for materials you accumulate throughout the day. Plastic bags can become uncomfortable because they cut into your hands and may tear open.
• Take a break periodically to refresh. Weather dependent, you might want to step outside for some fresh air.
• Comfortable walking shoes are a must. Insoles provide extra comfort.
• Dress in layers as the temperature in an exhibition area can change from one hall to another.
• Leave the show about an hour or so before the show’s closing. This will help you avoid long lines for busses and cabs and the traffic congestion of everyone leaving at once.
After the show
• Summarize your notes each evening.
• Review your show itinerary for the next day. Depending on what you have or have not accomplished, you may need to revise your schedule.
• When back in your office, take care of any show follow-up.
• Share any significant things you learned or discovered at the show with others in your organization.
I have found the trade shows offer a significant return for a small investment in time. I have never come away from a show without having increased my knowledge, made some good contacts or met someone who could serve as a resource.
David Kolman is a veteran truck communicator, keynote speaker and long-haul trucker. Commissioned as an Honorary Colonel on the Kentucky governor’s staff for his work promoting traffic safety, he actively participates in trade associations and reports news and information about the trucking industry for broadcasting and print media.
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