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Seven Tradeshow Tips

Kelle Vandenberg

by Kelle Vandenberg, Director of Marketing

With Coffee Fest Seattle right around the corner I want to share some tips for making your experience more enjoyable and productive.

Tradeshows are a great platform for doing business. They offer educational classes, product information; a chance to preview what is new, networking opportunities, and the perfect venue to “check out” the market.

As fun as they are, they can also be daunting if you go in without a game plan. Here are a couple of short, easy tips to make your tradeshow experience a breeze.

One Week Prior to the Show


The educational opportunities presented at tradeshows play an important role in offering a value-added service for the whole industry.

1.    Review via the show website, all the classes/seminars you want to attend and create “class schedule” and their location.

2.    Write down goals or information you want to gain from attending the seminar. That way if the speaker doesn’t cover it, you will be ready with your questions during the Q & A.


Tradeshows are defined by their name “trade”, so how can you create a more effective use of the floor for business?

3.    Print out a list of the exhibitors and the floor plan

4.    Highlight all the booths you want to visit and find them on the floor plan.

5.    GET BUSINESS DONE FIRST—Visit all the highlighted booths first and get the main business part of the floor done first—while you are fresh—then you are free to roam.

Browsing the Floor

Browsing the tradeshow floor is fun—it is like sample Saturday at Costco. However, there is so much to see and it can be easy to get overstimulated, especially at a coffee show.  Here are some quick tips to keep your focus, keep you energy up, and enjoy the samples!

Collect Business cards, instead of samples. We all walk out with loads of “free stuff” from the shows, thinking we have just scored majorly. Then we get back to the hotel and realize…I have got to get this stuff home.

I prefer the business card system—it is much easier to take home and helps me stay focused on the business at hand.

6.    Take business cards from all the booths that have what you are interested in.

7.    Use the number system:

  • On the back of each card, write a number 1-10 to help remember your level of interest, with 10 being the best.
  • Jot a couple of notes to jog your memory, but nothing more.

After the Show

When you get back to the office, you can categorize your cards by the number on the back.

10-8:        Follow up on these first
7-5:          Keep for follow up the week after
5-below:    Keep for the files—-you likely will not get to these.

Enjoy the show, get caught up on industry news and events, and take in a meet and greet. Throughout all the economic changes over the last few years, tradeshows remain a great, effective way to connect buyers, product, and education.