Article | June 20, 2012

Don't Attend Another Trade Show Without Reading This

Ken Thoreson Acumen

By Ken Thoreson, president, Acumen Management Group LTD

Last week I was in Charlotte, NC, today I’m in Orlando, and tomorrow I’ll be in Chicago speaking at a variety of industry trade shows.  As I am sitting in the lobby of this very nice hotel, between keynote presentations and breakout sessions, I can view 15 or so people watching a soccer game, a few others are holding one-on-one meetings, and other folks are wandering the hallways or even walking outside by the pool.  Its 1:45pm.  There are education breakout sessions going on and an Exhibit Expo is open -- why are so many people wasting this opportunity?  They have invested time and money to fly here and yet I see this same scenario played out at the 20 or so trade shows I attend each year.

8 Ways To Maximize Your Trade Show Effectiveness
There are plenty of reasons to believe that attending trade show or association events is fun and exciting because it is! However, to maximize your investment and opportunities you need to work these events. Here are a few action items I highly recommend that you apply to get the most value out of any future trade shows you attend.

  1. Identify and know your top 4 business challenges and use the time to look for answers in the breakout sessions, hallway conversations, and even at the bar.
  2. Plot your program strategy for your entire week, not on a day-to-day basis.
  3. Plan to attend only 4 breakout sessions a day to avoid burn out.
  4. Understand your transportation from the hotel to convention center. Use the shuttles between convention center and hotel, and pack your daily bags accordingly.
  5. At the end of each day do a daily recap of notes, thoughts,  and action items.
  6. Post trade show:  create a priority list of actions, and then share it with your team. Assign tasks and due dates -- and manage it!
  7. Within two weeks, review all the breakout session PowerPoint presentations that you missed and review all the breakout materials from the sessions that you attended. Many events post the PowerPoints online.
  8. Contact the presenters for additional information and visit their websites for other information that maybe available.

Normally everyone does a Top 10 list, but I only got to 8. What are your ideas to improve your time at these very important events?  Let me know.

Ken Thoreson operationalizes sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. He provides keynotes, consulting services, and products designed to improve business performance.  Ken’s latest book is: Leading High Performance Sales Teams. He can be reached at  Also, check out his blog at