Attending a Trade Show

I went to a trade show earlier this month. Pack Expo in Philly. This was an easy trip for me since I’m really close to Philly and could just take the train. Also I’ve somehow managed to work for nearly two decades and not ever go to a show. The last trade show I went to was in college, and that was for a newspaper conference in NYC. I wanted to write a few posts on my feelings toward doing this. At the end of the month it’ll also be the end of the first quarter, so I get to be honest about my goals for 2020 as well. It’s a mixed bag …

Today I’ll talk about my feelings before the show and then in the first hour. The next post will be about the show itself followed by a post on my feelings after some reflection. Here goes.

Before the show, I honestly didn’t think about my stuttering. I didn’t think about having to talk to a bunch of strangers and what I’d say to them, or ask them, or tell them about myself. The reason for this was because based on the projects that I knew were coming up for my company, I just wanted to go and see some solutions. I thought about standing at a booth looking at some equipment in operation, or picking up a brochure, or taking some photos.

I think a lot of this had to do with never having been to a show before. I knew about networking events (never done that, either), and this was not that. Some of what was on the show’s web site talked about before and after networking events, but at this time I wasn’t interested in that at all.

As far as introducing myself, I didn’t think much about that either — I figured there would be a name tag and lanyard. So they could just see my name. That took out a lot of the stress.

When I got to the show, it was not too chaotic. I got my badge and strolled on in. This is a smaller version of a show they have out west in the fall. I have been trying to go to that one for a while with no luck due to work. I didn’t have a “floor strategy” or anything. I could have studied the map on the train, but figured what’s the point, I can just walk around. I was planning on being there for two days.

During my first hour, I was pleasantly surprised at how open to talking people were. I figured out after a while this was because a.) these are sales people and b.) I am a customer. There were plenty of other people there without money to spend. But that was not me. I was on a mission.

For whatever reason, I still don’t have business cards yet. I was concerned about this somewhat, but then thought, well, I’ll just get their card, and if I need their stuff, I’ll reach out to them. Oh no. This show was better than that. They put a QR code right on your badge and then gave all the vendors an app to scan. No need for me to carry around a card!

In the next post, I’ll talk about what a typical conversation was like. And how the show got easier and easier as the hours went on.



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