Experienced buyers take advantage of multiple channels and resources when searching for potential suppliers for their products. Besides the various online databases you can browse, you might consider visiting trade shows to meet with suppliers face-to-face. Trade shows offer you the opportunity to discuss production capabilities and your own requirements first-hand, typically in English.
But trade shows can often be a frustrating experience, especially your first time or early on. By following our five simple survival tips, you can ensure you are putting yourself in the best position to get the most out of your valuable time while at the show.
1. Dress for the occasion
A business suit will look great, but this is probably the least suitable thing to wear when attending a trade show.
Business suits are not a requirement when conducting business in the manufacturing industry in Asia, whether visiting factories or attending trade shows. Dressing smart casual is the name of the game. Being comfortable will keep you in a better mood rather than sweating it out in a suit.
You will be doing a lot of walking when attending a trade show, so ensure you are wearing comfortable shoes. Sports or running shoes are a great option to help you power through those aisles.
2. Be selective with your name cards
The number of people who will greet you as you navigate your way through a trade show can be overwhelming. An earlier article offered 3 Essential Tips for attending the Canton Fair and discussed preparing for a trade fair in more detail.
Bear?in mind that many of the people working at the fair might not actually work full time for the supplier they’re representing. Many of the young people, a lot of them attractive young girls, are hired guns with one mission – to get your business card.
These hired workers will have little knowledge of the actual business of the company but will be briefed enough with the basics to entertain some rudimentary questions. However, at the end they will invariably ask for your business card, and your contact information will go on a big list they will blast with generic sales emails for months to come.
Don’t be shy to say “no” when asked for your business card. Simply saying that you don’t have any cards left and asking for theirs instead will get you out of that situation. One of our clients, a seasoned veteran of trade shows, actually carries a pocket full of fake business cards simply for getting out of those situations.
3. Stay hydrated and energized
Drink lots of water. You may not notice it while you are in the moment, but with all the walking around you will get dehydrated very quickly. There is bound to be a convenience store on your journey to the venue at the start of the day. Pick yourself up a 1-litre bottle of water, put it in your bag and don’t forget to drink from it every 20-30mins.
Bringing your own lunch is another option that will help you stay on schedule while at a trade show. Generally, the options for food will be very limited at the trade show venue, and you will likely find long lines and have difficulty finding a seat at the time you want to have lunch. If you are staying at a hotel which provides breakfast, why not prepare some sandwiches to take along to the show? This way, when you feel hungry you can simply pop outside for some fresh air and peace of quiet while making an action plan for the afternoon’s second round.
4. Choose accommodation with access to the subway system
Taxi’s can be hard to deal with and sometimes very expensive when attending trade shows.
However, most trade show venues in major cities have their own subway station. When planning your accommodation, choose a hotel that is located close by a subway station and use that method of transport to get to the venue.
Wait until after 9am to avoid the morning rush of people, and you will have a comfortable ride to the venue. You will also save money and avoid needing to line up for a taxi at the end of the day. Win-win!
5. Sort supplier information
To avoid having a suitcase that is overloaded and overweight with information from the show, it is a good idea to do a quick sort of the information after each day at the trade show. Take notes of the key information from company brochures that you want to follow up on. Then staple the company’s name card with your notes in your notebook.
This will avoid having to carry added luggage?and potentially being stung for overweight baggage on the way home.
Visiting trade shows can be a trying experience. But trade shows also present great opportunities for sourcing your products. To make the most of your time and ensure a comfortable visit, remember to:
- Dress comfortably – err?on the side of casual over formal
- Be selective with name cards – don’t feel obligated to give out your information to everyone?who asks
- Stay hydrated and energized – take a break when you need, drink plenty of water and consider bringing your own lunch
- Choose accommodation near the metro – this will make getting to and from the trade show easier
- Sort out supplier information – save time by staying organized during your time at the fair and keeping track of which suppliers you’re considering working with
Take advantage of all the opportunities for potentially meeting a great supplier. Visit a trade fair with these five tips in mind, and you’re sure to have a better experience there!