Choosing and Preparing for Educational Trade Shows

by Liz Adamson

I love educational trade shows and conferences. They are a great place to network, learn and provide a chance to step away from your business for a few days and gain some new perspective. I often come back from shows recharged and with many new ideas for my company. Here are a few tips on how to get the most from your experience.

Determine Your Goals

First, decide what your goals are in attending an educational trade show. Is it to learn a new skill? Network with other sellers? Meet with vendors? Is there a particular part of your existing business you want to focus on? Do you want to learn more about new opportunities? Deciding on your trade show objectives will help you pick the right show to attend and help you get the most out of your time and money.

After you have decided what you want to get out of a trade show, start researching your options. There are literally dozens of trade shows out there, all providing a slightly different experience and covering different areas of eCommerce. Some will focus on specific Amazon or eBay marketplaces, while others, like Internet Retailer, focus on a wide assortment of topics. Some will have a large assortment of vendors, and others not so many. Some shows are put on by vendors and others by trade groups. Before deciding which show to attend, take a close look at what their specialty is as well as who generally attends. Review the conference’s past and future agendas and see if it will cover topics of interest to you. Talk to sellers who have attended the show if possible and get their take on it.

Do Your Homework

Once you have identified and signed up for the conference be sure to put in a little work ahead of time to ensure that you get the most out of your time and money. Many conferences have multiple classes going on simultaneously, so take some time to review the options and identify the classes you feel you would get the most out of. Find out where the speakers are from, their expertise and what topics they’ll be covering. If you find that the classes you are interested in are being held simultaneously, consider sending two people from your company or coordinating with a colleague. The two of you can attend different courses and then compare notes. Some shows will even record the presentations and send them out afterwards. Be sure to bring something to take notes with, whether that's a good pen and plenty of paper, or a laptop or tablet - whichever allows you to most easily capture your thoughts.

Don't Forget to Network

Networking is a sometimes overlooked part of trade shows and can be a huge benefit to your business. There will be a large number of like-minded sellers, vendors and experts in attendance and it’s a great opportunity to make valuable contacts. Again, you should identify your goals in regards to networking. Are you looking for other sellers to collaborate with? Do you want to find service providers or software solutions to assist with a specific area of your business? Do you want to make a connection with a particular expert? Decide how you will approach your networking and even consider how to break the ice when starting a new conversation. And don’t forget those business cards!

Make the Most of Your Next Trade Show

Making sure you have done your homework, both in choosing and preparing for a trade show, will help ensure a profitable experience and maximize your investment. Trade shows and conferences can be a great resource in expanding your skills and resources. I have often walked away with more information and contacts in two days than I would get working from my office in a month. Don’t overlook the value of trade shows in helping you to continue to grow and expand your business.

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The eComEngine team is excited to be presenting at SCOE in March 2017 and would love for you to say hi if you're attending as well! We're also gearing up to travel to Nevada and meet up with Liz for the PROSPER show later in March. If you'd like to attend PROSPER, you can save $100 by signing up with our registration link!

Originally published on February 23, 2017, updated May 9, 2019

This post is accurate as of the date of publication. Some features and information may have changed due to product updates or Amazon policy changes.

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