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Strategies for Seeing Everything You Must See at ConExpo

Prepare with a plan ahead of time and accept from the start that it is impractical and unreasonable to expect to see every booth at the show.

Thu December 15, 2016 - National Edition
Jeff Winke

ConExpo 2017 will be held at the Las Vegas Convention Center from March 7-11, 2017.
ConExpo 2017 will be held at the Las Vegas Convention Center from March 7-11, 2017.

ConExpo can be a bit overwhelming. It is, afterall, the largest construction trade show in North America, which means everything to do with construction will be on display. It is the best place to see everything in a category of interest, plus everything outside of it.

New products and innovations will be on display, as will the solid, tried-and-true products, most likely displayed in their Sunday best. The trade show booths and displays will be competing for visitor attention. If there's a way to give a 100-ton bulldozer glitz, glitter, and glamor, there's likely a manufacturer doing it.

Given the show's enormity and the sensory overload to be experienced, attending ConExpo should not be done without a plan. In the same spirit, one probably doesn't wish to be dropped off at the front door of the Mall of America, the biggest shopping center in the U.S., with a need to find a men's casual shirt. There are likely many choices among the 4,870,000 square feet of retail space, but it definitely would help to have a couple stores in mind.

The strategy for seeing everything you must see at ConExpo is to prepare with a plan ahead of time and accept from the start that it is impractical and unreasonable to expect to see every booth at the show.

The best plan for attending ConExpo should include: appointments, exhibit space map, and a daily schedule, and a checklist.

Arrange Appointments Ahead of Time

ConExpo is a good event to create new business relationships with suppliers and other construction contractors; solidify existing relationships with manufacturers, dealers, project owners, or other contractors you've worked with in the past; and research new opportunities for expanding skills, services, and markets.

Arrange appointment times with these key contacts in advance of the show. If a “stop by the booth any time” or “I'll be around, we'll bump into each other” is given, insist on a specific time and location to ensure a productive meeting. Get their mobile number and text them before you arrive: “Heading to our meeting spot now. Looking forward to seeing you in 20 minutes.”

When arranging an appointment, it is important to answer the “what's in it for me” question they will be thinking to ensure they are committed to the meeting. The value being brought to the meeting might be a possible sale or demo opportunity, an industry-connected contractor contact (which is what you are!), or information / education about markets that can help them be more effective.

Get a map of the exhibitor space

The Las Vegas Convention Center is divided into three halls: the North, Central, and South Hall. Plus, the outdoor exhibits in the ample parking lot in front of the convention center.

Sort the “must see” list according to exhibitor space to make it time effective and easier to navigate. Study the map to figure out where everything is in relation to each other. Locate the lavatories as well and build visits into your schedule so to not be stuck on a far end of a hall when nature calls.

Fortunately, ConExpo groups similar vendors close together so if compare-contrast of certain products is an objective, it will be easy to accomplish.

Schedule the Day

With scheduled appointments, any industry training session commitments, new exhibiting companies to explore, and breaks to process and organize notes from a prior meeting, the day will benefit from a schedule that keeps everything on track.

Put the schedule on paper or a notecard as well as on a smartphone. It can be easier to glance at a notecard rather than checking an iPhone or tablet while rushing through a busy exhibit hall or talking with someone at a booth.

The schedule is the guardrail that keeps things moving in the right direction and prevents off-road excursions. It is helpful and also can be useful as an excuse should there be a need to break away from a meeting that's taken too long (“Sorry…I need to go. I just checked my schedule and I'm due at another meeting.”).

Create a checklist

The show is huge, there's a lot to see, and old friends and colleagues will pop up and be an unanticipated surprise. The exhibits will be interesting, enticing, and difficult to pass. Construction contractors are innately curious which makes it all the more difficult to walk through an exhibit hall filled with new technology and innovative machines without stopping to check things out.

To stay focused, create a checklist of the “must see” and “want to see” exhibitors and events. To be successful at seeing everything you must see at ConExpo, consult the checklist in the morning, mid-day, and in the evening, The checklist is the master mission…the ultimate To Do List for attending the big show. The goal is to end the time at ConExpo with everything on the must see list checked off or crossed off, and if lucky, a number of the want to sees checked off as well.

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