With the International Manufacturing Technology Show coming up next week in Chicago, we decided it was important to do a podcast about how to get ready for a trade show.
The following is a summary of our 2-part interview with Will Healy III. Will has been going to machining industry trade shows such as IMTS for a long time, as an exhibitor, a speaker, and attendee. I myself have been to quite a few trade shows over the years, including IMTS, and I have to say, I wish I had known a lot of the stuff covered in this interview back then, like how to plan your schedule before a show and the best strategies for networking. We even talked about how to stop a conversation if it is running too long.
Have a Plan Before the Show
If you go to a show like IMTS without a plan, you will walk a lot, you will not see as much as you want, and you will probably not see the things you needed to see.
There are four main exhibition areas at IMTS spanning three huge buildings in McCormick Place, which can be quite overwhelming for show goers. Will says when he goes to trade shows like IMTS, he wears gym shoes to traverse the show grounds, carrying dress shoes in a backpack if he has to work in a booth.
Will advises to study the IMTS map prior to the show to pick out the technologies you want to see, the companies you want to visit, and the people you want to talk to. Then plan a strategic rout.
Make Appointments with People You Want to Visit
Before a show it’s great to tell your venders that you’re going, so when you visit a booth they’re ready for you. If you don’t make appointments before the show, you can still swing by a booth and make an appointment to come by later.
Take advantage of networking events
After the show ends for the day, there are tons of networking events in the evenings put on by trade organizations and vendors. The show presents a rare opportunity to meet a lot of new people in your industry in person. Will says one philosophy he has when traveling for work is to “never eat alone” because there are tons of people from all over looking to connect with peers in their industry.
Tips for Interactions at Networking Events
Will says at events when he meets new people, he likes to write down their names in a notebook. He is not a fan of taking notes using smartphones because taking out phones creates disengagement in conversations. He also likes to follow up with most people he meets via email or social media after the show ends.
I also suggested that it would be good to have the calendly app ready on a smart phone to make appointments on the spot if you want to make sure to lock in a meeting post trade show.
Disengaging from Conversations
Will says it is important to be ready with some clever ways to end a conversation, so you don’t end up spending all of your limited time talking to only one person. Two of his go-to disengagement excuses, which enable him leave a conversation without lying, include having other appointments to get to and needing to go to the bathroom. He thinks people will be suspicious if you lie about having received a text message.
Question: Which booths or other events to you plan on checking out at this IMTS?
Will Healy III can be found on social media at the handle @willautomate