Over the last eight weeks, I have been to seven different Military aircraft industry trade shows in five different states. I quickly learned about F-15’s, C-130’s, F-16’s, and UH-60’s. Most importantly, I learned what it takes to survive a Military aircraft industry trade show. In this blog, I have outlined some of the best practices for those who are tasked to attend Military aircraft industry trade shows.
When you think of a Military aircraft industry trade show what is first thing that pops in your mind? Some might think about the networking and business opportunities. Others may think about the free drinks and long nights. No matter what comes to mind when you’re thinking about Military aircraft industry trade shows, if you’re not properly prepared you just might be the next victim.
- Have An Action Plan
Some would say that this is a no brainier, but you would be surprised how many people attend trade shows with no plan of action. You will see them aimlessly wandering around like a lost child looking for their mommy and daddy. If you haven’t notice this person wandering around…then you just might be that lost child! Having an action plan will ensure your chances of having a successful show. Not only should your plan be well-developed, but the information should be thoroughly disseminated to each person attending the show. Your action plan should act as your company’s bible; everyone should study it and be well versed in it.
Debriefing is a lost art in most companies. I am very glad that InterConnect Wiring is one of the few companies who exercise this tactic. At the end of each day our team gets together and has a 15 to 20 minute pow wow. During this pow wow everyone will discuss any potential business opportunities that the company should be aware of. Whether it is wiring harnesses, cockpit panels or a complete aircraft rewire, the entire group is brought up to speed and a clear next step is defined. We ask each other, “What are some of the things we did well? And what are some of the things we could improve on?” Afterward everyone has assigned action items to complete before the next meeting. When everyone is on the same page, the show runs much smoother
3. Less Talking More Qualifying
I can see you right now… Less talking you; must be kidding me! Why in the world would I talk less? I understand that networking is one of the reasons we all attend trade shows, but how can you efficiently network when you’re doing the majority of the talking? I’ll wait. One of the biggest mistakes when it comes to trade shows is talking too much. Most people come to trade shows because they are looking for the latest and greatest gadget or they are having an issue of some kind. And it is our job to uncover how we can help them. It’s not our duty to tell any and everyone our entire life story, or better yet, every joke we’ve ever learned since grade school. I’m not saying you shouldn’t talk; I’m saying that you should spend your time getting to learn as much information as you can about the person you’re talking to. You should be able to make sound decisions to continue your conversation or cut the conversation short.
- Wear Comfortable Shoes
I repeat, wear comfortable shoes. This is probably the most important piece of information when it comes to surviving a trade show. It’s the same as making sure you’re working with an AS9100C and ISO 9001:2008 registered company for your electrical products. You wouldn’t trust your crew’s safety with anything less right? Wearing comfortable shoes not only saves your feet it will also save your life. Typically, during trade shows you spend an extraordinary amount of time on your feet going from booth to booth. By the end of a long work day it feels like your walking on pins and needles. You wouldn’t believe how your feet can affect your ability to perform at your highest standard. Just as you need your body to perform at its highest standard, you should want the same for the company you do business with.
- Drink Responsibly
We’re all adults, we should know our limits. For those who don’t a Military aircraft industry trade show is the wrong place to test your limitations. We all had at least four years of college… some of us have even had five. Just because there is an open bar does not mean you should be walking around with a beer in each hand. That’s for a more personal setting. Remember you’re still at work! I consider myself the life of the party, but I understand that there is a time and a place for everything. A trade show is not the place. Don’t be fooled by the relaxed atmosphere, you’re still representing your company. Besides, big brother is always watching. There is nothing more embarrassing then getting a call from your boss the next morning in regards to your drunken behavior.
Finally, if you’ve enjoyed this blog entry, be on the lookout for part two of how to survive a trade show reloaded. In addition, if you incorporate these best practices I’ve outlined you’re sure to make it out alive at your next trade show. Come visit me at the F-15 TCG Conference this week!