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Heading to World of Concrete 2018? Here’s our survival guide for trade show attendees

It’s right around the corner, and it can pass like a whirlwind if you let it. World of Concrete is the event of the year for concrete and masonry producers — attendees this year will rub shoulders with some 55,000 industry professionals, jockey for position at the booths of over 1,500 exhibitors, and pace more than twelve football fields’ worth of show floor.

But with so many opportunities for information-gathering and networking, it’s important to go in with a game plan. MPAQ has been exhibiting at World of Concrete for the last 27 years; we’ve picked up a thing or two. Here are our best tips for making the most out of your time in Las Vegas next week.

BEFORE YOU GO

Hand-pick your team. Who needs to attend the show? It might not be just the high-level managers and decision-makers in your company. Bring a trusted individual who’s closer to the daily operations of your plant. They’ll have a valuable perspective on what products and features you really need in order to avoid setbacks and save time and money.

Don’t go in blind. Make a list of everything you’re looking for, organized by equipment type and/or service, and use the keyword search in the World of Concrete exhibitor list to look up exhibitors who match your interests. Check out their websites and winnow down your list to a manageable size. You might even think about contacting your most high-value prospects and making appointments beforehand, so that they’re ready to give you their undivided attention.

Download the show app. There’s a free World of Concrete mobile app, available for Android and iOS, that packs in a ton of event information. There’s a travel planner, a floor map, show alerts, a calendar, and social media functions. Download it now and get a feel for it before you head to Las Vegas. The floor map in particular has some useful interactive features: you can bookmark exhibitors, get directions, take notes and share pinned locations with others in your team.

MORNING OF

Go full Boy Scout. You’re there to work. Bring a roomy, comfortable tote bag or backpack that you can stuff with giveaways and literature without cutting off the circulation in your arms. Wear comfortable shoes. Pack a few pens and a notepad; a stack of your business cards; hand sanitizer, to ward off the post–trade show flu; and a snack and reusable water bottle, to avoid a miles-long hunt for overpriced vending machines.

Plan your route. Grab a paper map or pin destinations on the World of Concrete app, and figure out your route for the day. Wandering the floor aimlessly or zig-zagging between show halls is a recipe for leaving the event overwhelmed and empty-handed. The floor plan is organized by product and service, so you should be able to work out a circuit that hits all your destinations without any backtracking. But do budget time to stroll around and browse after you visit all your must-have stops — a lower-profile exhibitor might end up pleasantly surprising you.

Don’t try to park. Take it from us: you’re going to waste your time and end up parking ten blocks away. Instead, take advantage of the free shuttle bus service or discount monorail tickets to get to the trade show from your hotel.

ON THE FLOOR

Choose your moment. The first and last couple hours of World of Concrete are the worst times to drop by a booth unannounced. Exhibitors will be distracted with working out any final kinks in their set-up, or tired and ready to pack up. If you’re in the sweet spot but see that a booth is packed, leave a business card and circle back later for more one-on-one attention.

Leave room for happy accidents. Don’t get lured into over-long conversations that you know are dead ends; the exhibitors want to make the best of their own time, too, so give yourself permission to be purposeful. But it’s equally important to be flexible and know a good opportunity when you see one, whether or not it’s on your pre-planned route. Chat up fellow attendees, keep your eyes open, and go with your gut. You never know where a chance encounter might lead, and that’s the beauty of a trade show.

Network, network, network. That’s why you’re there, after all. Wear your name badge, take business cards, sign up for e-mail lists, and carry away every piece of relevant literature you can get your hands on. If you prefer to travel light, ask for brochures or pamphlets to be e-mailed to you.

Take notes. When you get a business card, always jot down a few key notes for yourself on the back — what is this person offering? What did you discuss? What are your first impressions? If you’re more of a visual learner, another option is to use your smartphone to snap photos of booths you’re especially interested in, so you can jog your memory later. Be sure to expand on any notes at lunch or at night in your hotel, while all those conversations and faces are fresh in your mind.

BACK HOME

Get organized. As soon as you’re back at work, a thorough post-mortem is essential. Comb through all the information you’ve collected, ditch the pamphlets and brochures you don’t need, summarize your experiences with each contact, and identify the top exhibitors that caught your eye. If you’re feeling swamped, try talking through the event with someone who didn’t attend; it’s a great way to put things in perspective and crystallize your own impressions.

Follow up. Don’t let all that work go to waste. Be sure to follow up with your most promising leads in the next 1-2 weeks.


Enjoy the show, and don’t forget to stop by the MPAQ exhibit at Booth N347 in the Producer Center next week! See you in Vegas.

Heading to World of Concrete 2018? Here’s our survival guide for trade show attendees
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