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10 Tips for Surviving a Trade Show

1. Bring business cards—lots of business cards. And be prepared to manage the ones you receive. Whether you use an app to scan and organize business cards or simply jot a few notes on the back of each, make sure they don't end up floating around your luggage for the next six months. Click here for a recent review of the best apps available.

2. Check the dress code before you pack. If there isn't something published in the trade show materials, check with someone whose judgment you trust, who has attended in the past.

3. Bring the right shoes. You're going to be spending a lot of time standing and walking on thinly carpeted concrete. This is not the time to try out your new kitten heels or stylish booties. Think sensible.

4. Take steps to stay healthy. Keep well-hydrated, wash your hands often, try an Emergen-C or other preventive health supplement, keep some zinc lozenges in your bag in case you feel a cold coming on, and bring ear plugs and an eye mask to ensure you get a good night's sleep.

5. Eat healthy. It's hard when you're on the road, but make an effort to include fresh fruits, veggies, lean protein, and whole grains in your diet, instead of filling up on hotel breakfast pastries or complimentary cookies.

6. Eat a big breakfast. If you are unable to leave your booth for a lunch break, you'll be grateful you went for the big omelet instead of a container of yogurt. And refrain from eating at your booth. It looks messy, and makes you seem less approachable.

7. Use breath mints. In a loud convention arena, you may be leaning in to make yourself heard, and you don't want the garlic and anchovies from the Caesar salad at lunch to scare anyone away.

8. Know your elevator speech. Be prepared to approach strangers, introduce yourself, and engage them in conversation. It might be much less intimidating to chat with those you already know, but that's not why you're attending the trade show. Click here for some tips on developing a winning pitch. 

9. Make yourself known. Don't hide behind your cell phone, or skip sessions and events because you're tired. Use the opportunity to be social, make new contacts, and develop relationships. Yes, it's exhausting, but you can sleep when you get home.

10. Have a plan. Make a schedule for who is manning the booth, decide which events you are going to attend, identify whom you hope to connect with, prepare a social media strategy, download the event's app in advance, and manage any other details you can before you arrive.

Written by Jennifer Reynolds, staff writer at Groups Today.

Photo Courtesy of Visit Baltimore.

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