8 Tips To Navigate the 2017 OneShow

March 1, 2017

The largest event of the vending, micro market and office coffee service industry is 28 days away and counting. A huge event, the NAMA OneShow from April 19 to 21 promises must-see opportunities from new exhibitors to enriching education sessions. Located at the Venetian in Las Vegas, NV, there will be plenty to do, see, and experience. Use these 8 tips to make your 2017 show the best experience yet.

1. Plan in advance

Beyond the basics of flight and hotel arrangements, now is the time to explore the NAMA OneShow schedule and exhibit floor. The full schedule is available online and lists educational sessions and speakers. Consider topics, but also who is presenting. These can be great resources.

Also take a look at the exhibit floor. What companies are there that sell a new solution you've been eyeing? NAMA offers an interactive show floor planner to help you plan your time. Create a profile and you can build a personalized exhibitor list by clicking on the star by a company name. It will show on the map and you can plan a route either with the map, or using the list on the left. (HINT: click on "Booth" instead of the default "Exhibitor Name" to rearrange the exhibitors in a numerical order.) And once on site, don't forget to download the NAMA OneShow app.

2. Craft a realistic goal

Attending a tradeshow can be vastly rewarding, but also expensive. Make the most out of it by having a goal or series of goals to accomplish. Do you want find a private label roaster? Explore OCS logistic and inventory software? Do you want to build a network of other operators who you can call on about different topics? Set a goal, and you will be better able to plan your time for maximum efficiency.

3. Network like a pro

The social skills of small talk and networking during events will never be obsolete. If there are people you would like to meet, list their names and watch for the events they are most likely to attend. Make sure you have a short elevator pitch ready to introduce yourself and what you do when asked.

If you don't have anyone in mind to meet, mingle and join in conversations. If you are an introvert, start by introducing yourself to someone standing alone. Keep your posture open, head up, arms and legs uncrossed. Listen to the person and ask lots of questions. Focus on similarities which will drive the other person to remember the interaction and excuse yourself only at a natural conversation ending point.

4. Sit in on a session

Even if you are a office coffee service veteran, sit in on at least one session. Sometimes it is not just about the information being presented, but that one good idea you hadn't considered. Roundtables where operators talk about their experiences are especially helpful. Don't just focus on the panel and presenters however, keep an eye on the audience as well. Is someone commenting or asking a question that you find particularly interesting? Speak with them after the session, or check their name tag and find them on the show floor. They are there to network as well.

5. Make appointments

There is often so many people at a trade show, it can be hard to get time with the right person on the show floor. Beat the crowd by asking for a meeting with a broker, roaster, supplier, manufacturer, or press before the OneShow begins. If you think March is too early to start asking for a meeting at the OneShow, it is not. Most exhibitors have already begun slotting in meeting times.

6. Leave room for discovery

While planning, organizing and mapping out your show floor route are ideal, leave some time for spontaneous discoveries. Each year the show is different, and you never know what will spark a new product line or answer a nagging consumer request. This year NAMA has carved up the tradeshow floor into a number of different focuses, including healthy products under FitPick, nontraditional products under VENDTHIS! And of course, office coffee service specific options in the Convenience Services Pavilion.

7. Bring and hand out cards

This should go without saying, but it is worth mentioning again as a reminder. Bring and hand out your business card. Pack more in your suitcase than you think you will need. Not only will exhibitors be thankful for the cards of interested customers, but when networking, having a business card available can create an instant connection. It gives the person you were speaking with a better chance of remembering your name and the conversation. Remember to take them to "Thank you" dinners and networking happy hours as well as while on the show floor. At the end of the evening, take notes on the business cards you receive, so you can follow up as needed.

8. Follow up post show

This is one of the most important aspects of attending a trade show. It's time to sort through the scraps of paper with cell phone numbers, promotional literature with new products, receipts for expenses and more. Make a few piles, such as products and services to investigate further and cards of operators willing to share experiences. Be sure to delegate the follow up tasks when you can.

After jogging your memory with cards and flyers, craft a brief summary of the show, such as what was most interesting, most usually, new options you are considering, what you learned, etc. This does two things. It allows you to compare your experience at the trade show with your goals for attending. And it also gives you something to share with employees who didn't attend. This will help them feel connected to the business and what is happening in the industry. Follow up with most things within a month.