Attending A Trade Show: Four Steps To Success

I was booking my flight and hotel for Vision Expo East on Sunday afternoon, and I was thinking about all of the preparation that goes into attending a big expo. An event like VEE is a fantastic way to continue your optical education, explore cool new eyewear collections, and meet awesome opticians and eye doctors from around the world.  

If you decide to go you will want to plan it right in order to get the biggest bang for your buck. Follow these four steps for your roadmap to success at VEE or any big optical trade show.    

1. Set Clear Goals. You should have some clear goals in mind as to what you hope to accomplish while you are there. Maybe you are looking to invest in a cool new independent eyewear collection for your store. Or perhaps you would like to take your optical skills to the next level in a particular area of study. You might be looking to purchase some new lab equipment. It is also possible that you need to accomplish some combination of all these things or other things I have not mentioned.  

I believe in being proactive, so for me the best way to prepare is to write down your specific goals in each of the aforementioned areas and plan accordingly. Once you sign up for a bunch of classes and start booking appointments with all the reps that are going to be calling you, you will find that there is very little time leftover to accomplish the things that would benefit you the most.   

2. Schedule Your Classes. I like to schedule my classes first. I look at my educational goals, and I then look for classes on my goal topics. If possible I try to leave large blocks of time before or after my classes during the day so that I will have time to schedule meetings with reps. When thinking how many hours of classes to take it is important to balance the time between meetings with reps and sitting in classes.    

3. Schedule Appointments With Reps.  Planning your appointments with reps is the next step. I like to start with reps of collections that I do not currently carry, but that I am interested in viewing. After that I schedule reps of any collections I carry, but that do not travel to my state. If I have to make a choice it would be more important that I see them than reps that visit me during the year regularly. The next would be to schedule reps that do visit me, but on a more limited basis. Then I schedule reps that visit regularly.  

I have set these rules because time is so limited, and it is imperative that you make every minute count. If you fly in on day one and then fly out on day four you will have about seventy two hours give or take to accomplish your goals. Once you throw in sleeping time and going to some social events at night, you can really start to see how limited your time is. However if you plan right for this short seventy two hour period you will accomplish several months worth of business and educational activities, and have a great time while you are there.  

4. Connect With Awesome People. You want to make the most of your trip. In order to do that it is important to set your goals, make your agenda, and stay focused. Now you will be productive and also be able to connect with some great people while you are there. Connecting with industry peers who you can learn from is perhaps one of the most valuable aspects to take away from a big trade show.