Well, everyone, fall is here. Before we get to celebrate all things seasonal, we all have to come to terms with the reality that the trade show season is upon us. And, not unlike children looking forward to Halloween, there is a cross-section of adults who look forward to the trick-or-treat nature of trade shows for the same reason: free handouts for little to no effort.
But what is the purpose of trade shows in this day and age? It’s not like we aren’t inundated 24/7 with information about the latest technology, toys, and more. Pair the push of information with the information we can pull from our daily Internet searches, peer groups, social media, and so on, and—in theory—we have everything we need to make educated business decisions with ease.
So, I ask again: What’s the purpose of the modern trade show when we have everything at our fingertips? To be honest, there are two answers. For some companies and trade show attendees, it’s more about the parties, the time away from work, and the free swag that’s handed out to them as they roam the aisles, leading to nothing more than hotel bills, large bar tabs, and new frequent flyer points. And, you know what? That’s okay—there will always be people who just want to use the yearly trip as a way to decompress and recharge for the year ahead.
However, there is a second, more important reason: hands-on experience and the ability to have meaningful conversations with potential partners who could positively change the direction of your business.
For instance, I, for one, really enjoy both my time as a vendor and the trade show environment itself. It gives me a chance to make personal connections with people our company may potentially work with, and to reconnect with those that have become amazing clients but are geographically distant. In either case, it’s about having real-time conversations, learning from the people we speak with, and having the chance to peer into their hearts and minds to define our offerings and suit each individual’s needs.
With all that technology does for us—and we are in part to blame, as our company is one that architects the technology itself—the ever-present hum of the connected world can lead to a disconnect from the human element. In our fast-paced lives, we assume we have “connections” because our apps tell us we do. Whether it’s reading someone’s post on LinkedIn, watching a video of a birthday party on Facebook, or looking at photos of a friend’s great vacation of Instagram, we are led to believe that we are somehow connected on an intimate level. But none of these virtual connections can take the place of human interaction.
It’s why each of us always strives to be better, different, and more engaging when we are at trade shows—not for reasons of selling or better business development, but because interacting with people is what leads to ultimate success, not just for us, but for those we speak with.
From simply playing games at the booth while talking about IT challenges, to taking an omni-channel approach to information delivery in real time, we always want to ensure that people come first—something that, collectively, we all need to do.
So, whether you are jumping on a plane to get to the next big show, or jumping on your favorite social media app, take a moment to pause, breath, and think of who you should connect with in person. And be sure to smile; whether it’s a work-related or personal relationship, a smile goes a long way.
Happy trade show trick-or-treating everyone. Enjoy the season!