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What I Learned From My First Trade Show

a photo of the TimeForge booth, taken from my first trade show

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Trade shows are a fantastic opportunity for networking, showcasing your company, and finding potential partners in your industry. Recently, I got to attend my first trade show (RetailNOW in Nashville), and learned quite a lot!

3 Tips from My First Trade Show

Below are a few useful tips that I’d like to share with you from my first trade show experience:

Tip #1: Bring Comfortable Shoes!

One thing you can be sure will happen at any trade show is a lot of standing and walking. I think I was on my feet probably 14 hours a day during the trade show in Nashville. A comfortable pair of shoes with good insoles will make an incredible difference.

As a bonus tip, if you’re wearing professional footwear, bring a pair of sneakers or something more casual for the evenings to give your feet (and your shoes!) a break.

Tip #2: Don’t be afraid to say “hello!”

Some of the best conversations I had during the trade show were ones that I initiated. Whether it was at a networking event, or standing in our booth, by taking the initiative to start conversations, I was able to meet a lot of incredibly interesting people.

It can be tough to do that if you’re used to hanging out at the edge of the room, but what I’ve found is by simply saying hello, then asking how they’re enjoying the event can often be enough to get a conversation started.

a photo of the TimeForge booth, taken from my first trade show
A photo of the TimeForge booth at RetailNOW in Nashville, TN.

Tip #3: Choose your attire wisely

Don’t make the same mistakes I did. On the first day of RetailNOW, when we were setting up our booth, I mistakenly wore my suit that morning. That was a bad idea for the middle of summer on a hot, humid Nashville day. Even the air conditioning in the venue couldn’t keep the room cool, as the outside doors were open to allow forklifts and other equipment to be pulled in. Something light, but professional, like a polo would’ve been perfect and saved me the sweat bath!

At the end of the trade show, the same advice stands. You may not have an opportunity to stop by your hotel to change, so make sure to wear something that you’ll feel comfortable packing up your booth in and is appropriate for the outside weather.

Takeaways from My First Trade Show

I simply can’t overstate the importance of comfortable shoes and clothes. It’s just so much easier to relax and network when you’re not distracted by pinched toes or an uncomfortable suit. When packing for your next trade show trip, include outfits with layers so you can adapt to whatever surprises the weather throws your way.

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