Attending a big trade show will leave even the most hardy techie feeling 4F: fatigued, foot-sore, food-deprived and generally frazzled. It need not be that way. Let our anonymous guide prepare you with tips on shoes, fine dining and a special tip on how to get out of boring product demos.

f02a.jpg (8563 bytes)You’re going to a trade show. It might be a big show or a little show but nonetheless you’ve got a lot of ground to cover. And you want to get the most bang for your buck and — more important — you don’t want to miss the perks.

24×7’s Ambitious Attendee has a few tips you can use at your next trade show, both inside the exhibit hall and out. He’s collected information from some of the best and brightest in the industry to give you, the tenacious techie tourist, advantages you need to maximize your trade show experience. Let us begin where every technical exposition safari begins, a corner of the floor we will call …

Home sweet home
No matter what the size of the show, you always need a home base. Like George Carlin used to say, a home is just a place to keep your stuff and at a trade show, you will accumulate a shoulder-breaking load of stuff. The Ambitious Attendee tries to reserve early and get lodging on-site. If you’re staying at a hotel close to or connected to the convention center, then you’re in the money. You’ve got a room close by to drop off any materials you gather, use the phone and e-mail to get information, and a command center for making social plans.

But if you don’t have an on-site hotel room, or one that is pretty darn close, you’ve got to establish a post on the show floor. If your company has a booth, you’re hooked up. Even if you don’t have booth duty, use the booth to stash your “stuff” while you scour the show floor gathering free “stuff.”

If he’s not lucky enough to have a booth, the Ambitious Attendee will find people who do and leech off of them. Step one — find a friend or business acquaintance who works for a company with a booth. Step two — call them prior to the show and pursue a conversation very similar to this one:

“Hey are you going to the XYZ trade show next month? Wow, so am I. Let’s meet up some time for dinner. No, we don’t need to make plans now. I’ll just swing by your booth early in the show and talk with you then.”

Notice the magic phrase, “swing by your booth.” When the Ambitious Attendee swings by that booth, he makes his pitch to stash stuff, bum a phone call, eat the always-present booth candy and borrow free pens. If he’s really rocking, he can slime his way into a free dinner on the host-company’s plastic.

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