Every year with every show, it just keeps getting better and better. This is a show we never miss. From connecting with brand partners, meeting up with national colleagues, to the education, to see new products and where the design + build industry is shifting…we always leave a different person.
We often get asked from colleagues in the industry if it’s worth it to go, and every time we say YES!! However, we always warn them that the first couple of years can be a bit overwhelming.
So Jamie and I thought we’d chat today about eight things we’ve learned over the years and how to make the best of your experience when attending this show. These are things we’ve been doing over the years, which is why it probably gets better and better every time.
Have a Clear Purpose and Goals
This is for any show we go to, we always have a clear objective and purpose for going to the show.
Conventions are expensive! And you don’t want to go, just to go. For us, it’s not for the show and to get that one Instagram picture. It’s about bringing value to our business and brand.
By the time you get your flights, hotels, tickets booked, and then once you’re there and you spend money on events, food, and drinks we easily spend $1,500- $2,000 per person.
So think about why you’re going to the show and what you want to get out of it. If you have a clear purpose, goal, and objective for going and remind yourself of your why I promise you will leave with what you went there for.
For us at c2s, our purpose is to…
- Educate ourselves on new products
- Learn about new and best business practices
- Connect with new brand partners
- Connect and build deeper relationships with national industry friends
Knowing our purpose, we create measurable goals that we make sure we hit as a team. We each have to…
- Schedule 8-10 meetings prior
- Go to 5-10 classes/courses/live shows
- Schedule 3-4 intentional meetings with brand partners with the intent to sign contacts after the show within the following 2-4 months
- Show up at 1-3 events
- Leave with 10-15 business cards
- One blog post recap of all that we learned
Do your homework before going to the show. Otherwise, you will 100% be overwhelmed. The convention center is a huge place, and you can easily get lost or miss out on things that you otherwise should have been spending your time doing.
Months before the show, we start looking up on the KBIS & IBS websites what brands will be there that we want to check out and what classes and shows they’re hosting that we want to attend. We also start following and paying attention to the KBIS & IBS social media channels and following their hashtags. Another easy way to see what will be going on at the show to start planning out our schedule.
Don’t be afraid to ask someone what they recommend going to or doing. If you see on Instagram someone talking about a live podcast, they’ll be going to or booth they can’t wait to check out, chime in. This is another easy way to start building those connections for meet-ups ahead of time. We always do a little luncheon meet-up with some of our national industry friends, and I can’t tell you how many times someone has commented on one of our posts asking about the show, and I immediately invite them to the meet-up. If they hadn’t commented, I would have never thought to ask them.
Schedule your Time
Then start scheduling your time before you jet out! This is something we didn’t do the first couple of years we went to the show, which was not only a big missed opportunity but a waste of time.
We request this from our team too. We ask for each of them to run through their schedule before we fly out, and you bet, their schedules better be full!
As of right now, our schedules are full back to back in hour meetings from 8 am and events until midnight. Also, we already have our maps scheduled out, otherwise by the time if you figure out where you’re walking to, you can already have wasted an hour. However, it can be valuable just to walk the show floor too, don’t get me wrong.
Start Connecting Months Ahead of Time
Whether it’s with brands or other friends, colleagues, competitors in the industry…start connecting with them online. Instagram is one of the easiest ways to do this! Start commenting on their posts, sending them direct messages, get your name and brand in front of them so that when you reach out to schedule time to meet, they’re not wondering who you are.
Connecting and building these relationships before you head to the show will not only help you develop deeper and more more meaningful relationships but also create additional new opportunities.
By connecting and building these relationships over the years, for us, it has led to being on live podcasts at the show, invited to private industry parties, being featured on the cover and in the KBB magazine, and have had paid brand sponsorships/appearances while out there.
Get Meetings Set Up Prior
We take a peek at all of the brands we’ve been using and loved in the past year, and if we don’t already have a personal relationship with them, we start reaching out and asking for a meeting rather than just popping into their booth. The reason being is because this show is BUSY, and a lot of the people you might want to talk to might be taking a break or in another meeting when you swing in. So again, to not waste time, connect with the people you want to meet, see, and learn from before you head to the show.
This was our word last year, tenacious!! And boy has it changed who we are. Going to large shows like this, even if it’s not for the first time, can not only feel overwhelming, but it can be really intimidating.
But if you’re going to spend the time and money to show up, SHOW UP. Be bold, ask for brands cards, connect with others online, show up at that event and walk in with confidence and put your hand out and introduce yourself. I mean, what is the worst that’s going to happen and I promise you, by being tenacious, it will bring your brand to the next level!
Have LOTS of fun!
And don’t forget to let loose and have some fun!! After all, this is what a large part of the show is all about! Celebrating the wins, laughing off the losses, lessons learned, and hard work you have put in throughout the past year! And celebrating where the design + build industry is moving.
Now, who’s Vegas bound?! If it’s you and you’re looking for something to do on Wednesday at 3:00, come hang with us at “The Spot.” We’ll be on a live podcast talking all the things with Protractor Podcast. See ya there!