Kate Denne Administration Services Northampton

Attending an exhibition? Make your attendance worthwhile.

You may have seen my previous post on 10 tips for a Knockout Exhibition Presence from an exhibitor’s perspective, but how do you make sure your attendance as a visitor is worthwhile?

Let me share some tips with you.

Do your research

Don’t just plan to go to an exhibition just because it’s happening. Think about the overall exhibition and firstly, whether it’s actually worth your while in going. You may find that the exhibition doesn’t offer the type of exhibitors you wish to engage with, or it’s to big/small or its focus isn’t the same as yours.

Have a goal

Now you’ve decided that the exhibition is for you, why are you actually going? It may seem an obvious question, but ask yourself what is the reason for attending. Are you going to look for potential suppliers? Are you looking to engage in a new contract? Are you looking to purchase?

Whatever your reason, make sure your goal is clear and try and stick to this. This is more time efficient and likely to be more cost effective for you.

Do your research

Yes, I said it again! Purely intentional.

Have a look online in the run up to the event and see who is exhibiting. You may have already done this when working out whether to attend or not, but now you know that you’re definitely going, your focus will be different. You will be able to ascertain which exhibitors hold the most interest for you as well as those who aren’t appropriate at this time. Once you’ve done this, you can…..

Plan your visit

Based on your research (above), make a plan of the stands that you want to visit in order of priority. This will ensure that you make the most of your time at the event and you’ll get a worthwhile experience. You don’t want to be getting towards the end of the day without visiting the company that is your main reason for attending and then run out of time.

You may even find that some stands offer an appointment booking system whereby you can meet with a representative on a one-to-one basis for a more detailed discussion than perhaps you’d have if you were just passing by. If one of the companies that you’ve identified is offering this, definitely take them up on the offer. It’ll mean that you will get to see then and can plan your day more effectively.

Engage online

Most exhibitions will have some form of online coverage, whether it’s a Facebook page or a dedicated website. Keep up-to-date with their feeds for information relating to the event. It may provide you with details of exhibitors, timetables, events and activities taking place. You can also use the feeds to engage with the exhibition and exhibitors in advance. And this leads me on to…..


Social channels open up a range of networking opportunities for you in the run up to, and at the event itself.

Use these channels not just to engage with exhibitors, but perhaps, other delegates. You may find that there are other people who have said that they’re going to that you wish to meet with. Perhaps other industry colleague that you want to have a catch up with over a coffee?


Is the exhibition running a presentation stream? You can find that some exhibitions offer the companies exhibiting the opportunity to address the audience as part of a speaker schedule.  Take advantage of this as it’s a great way of obtaining information and may also count as CPD.

Approach exhibitors

Don’t be afraid to go up to an exhibitor, in particular, if it’s a company you’re keen to engage with. After all, they’re there because they want to talk to people! If you’ve planned ahead and identified your goals you’ll know who you wish to speak with. You may find that their stand is busy. Perhaps spend some time viewing their stand, looking at their literature etc whilst waiting for a representative to become available.

Don’t feel pressured

‘Special Show Offer’! We’ve all seen them – Show Specials. ‘Order today for a ..% discount’ etc. These are great if you’ve gone with the definite intention of purchasing a specific product. For example ‘these guys supply the pens I want, and I want to buy 50,000 of them’. That’s fine. But, if you’re there to scope out organisations for large-scale, high-budget project then don’t be drawn into entering into an agreement with them just because you’re there and feel you have to.


If you’ve found a company that you’re interested in, and a short visit to their stand isn’t enough to make a business decision, agree to continue discussions after the event. You never know, you may be able to negotiate that ‘Show Special Offer’ after all.


So, as you can see with a few simple steps, you can really make the most of going to an exhibition by aligning it with your business goals and planning ahead.

And, whilst I’m talking about steps, my final tip is to wear good shoes! Have you ever been to a large trade show at the ExCel or NEC…..?!

Kate Denne Administration Services Northampton

Kate is a committee member of the following business networking events; Breakfast@Beckworth, East Northants Business Network and Rushden Town Partnership and is a skilled VA specialising in event management. Enquiries should be directed to kate@kdva.co.uk 

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