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Plan your expo route to get most from trade show

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by Clarissa A. French

SBJ Staff

This year's Business & Technology Expo offers more than ever for trade show attendees.

The expo features everything from financial services companies, computer dealers and telecommunications firms, to retail outlets, restaurants and area educational programs.

Insurance agencies, utility providers, production companies, office supply stores, printing services, investigation firms and sign companies are all represented.

Just wandering around the expo, visitors can price a home spa, look into legal services, find out how area personnel services can help with their labor situation, catch up with local health care offerings, sample area publications, survey security options and find out about a plethora of business consulting services.

Nowhere are so many diverse businesses and resources gathered together than at this yearly event.

In order to get the most out of this year's expo, visitors may want to consider a trade show strategy. There are two basic methods.

The guerilla method. This is the hit-and-run school of trade show attendance, recommended for those with limited time and specific interests.

First, make a list of products and services in which you are interested. Then, cross reference with the exhibitors list and the map, and plan your expo route accordingly.

If you want to price copiers to replace the office dinosaur, plot out the locations of the copier dealers' booths. If you're planning to hold a company meeting or convention, identify and hit the hotel and motel operators' booths.

This is the most time-efficient method of getting what you need out of the trade show.

The wanderer method. If you've got the time and want to see all the expo has to offer, there's less planning involved, but you may still want to take a look at the expo map to establish a route that lands on all the properties.

If you're going to cruise the expo, one of the first things you'll want to do is get a bag to carry brochures and promotional items. Otherwise you'll rapidly find yourself loaded down with material and possibly leaving a trail of key chains, pencils, letter openers and literature in the aisles behind you.

A tip: don't take literature for products or services that you are not really interested in. You may feel it's the "polite" thing to do, but it does the exhibitor no good if you pick up his material only to toss it when you get back to the office.

Regardless of whether you choose the guerilla method or the wanderer method, you will probably want to take along plenty of business cards to enter the variety of giveaways offered by expo exhibitors.

Of course, those fishbowls full of business cards will later be used by the booth sponsors as potential sales leads, so you may want to be selective about where you leave your card.

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