If you're looking to start a business, a trade show can be a great place to gather information--whether you're seeking new customers, suppliers or contacts for your business, or you're shopping for a new business to start. Exhibitor booths are manned by franchisors, business-opportunity sellers, banks, phone companies, Internet service providers, and even the Small Business Administration--all of whom are eager to assist you. Some trade shows even offer seminars on a variety of business-related topics.
But trade shows can be overwhelming, with dozens of exhibitors all competing for your attention. In order to get the most out of a show, you need to know what to expect and how to sort through the many offerings.
"A good show will have a floor plan," says Helen C. Brown of Aston, Pennsylvania, who attends trade shows regularly to make contacts for her meeting- and event-planning business, Concepts to Reality Inc. "If you have that, you can plan, in advance, which exhibits you want to hit."
In addition to floor plans, most shows provide booklets with descriptions of the exhibits, as well as a listing of the times, topics and featured speakers of any seminars or panel discussions, so that attendees can better plan their time.