NPOA for Printers: 7 Tips to Maximize Your Time Away from the Office

The 8th Annual Spring Conference for the National Print Owners Association (NPOA) is coming up soon!

We’ll be there, and we’re hoping to see your smiling faces as well.

While choosing to remove yourself from the day-to-day to work on your business can be tough, it’s so very necessary. Because that time is so valuable, you need to have a mission – a plan for how you’re going to make the most of your time away from the office and get as much out of the show as possible.

After all, if you’re going to shell out the funds to attend a trade show, shouldn’t you be prepared to get something out of it?

7 Tips to Maximum Your Time at NPOA

Here are seven ways for you to get maximum results out of your event and ensure your money and time are well spent.

1. A Little Research Goes a Long Way

When it comes to trade shows, one of the most important things to remember is, “Know before you go.”

“Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.”
~ Zora Neale Hurston

The more knowledge you’ve equipped yourself with, the better you’ll be able to execute your goals effectively.  Here are a few things you should research and know ahead of time:

  • The agenda. Don’t miss out on the key sessions you need to be at.
  • List of vendors you need to seek out
  • Keynote sessions times and speakers
  • Educational or workshop sessions available to you

2. Stay Where the Action Is

Capitalize on your time at the conference by staying where the action is.

Most of the best networking happens in informal settings, like sitting next to someone new at breakfast.

Beyond the hotel stay, remember the other action happening with seminars, sessions, planned vendor meetings, and keynote sessions. It’s important not to allow yourself to get tunnel vision with one particular interest, but to take in (and learn from) the action of the entire show.

3. Have a Goal in Mind

If you have no goal or vision in mind for what you plan to accomplish at your event, you can count on walking away feeling like you’ve wasted your time.

To paraphrase a verse in Proverbs, “Without a vision, the people perish.” Be sure to have a vision/goal before you go and know what you want to accomplish.

Consider creating a list of objectives that outline what you want to explore or learn at the show. You can take that even further by mapping out or listing the vendors you want to visit, and then hit your objectives first. That will free you up to explore as you wish, knowing you’ve covered what you set out to do.

4. Come Prepared

A goal or vision means nothing without proper preparation.

“Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation.” ~Zig Ziglar

To prepare for your next trade show event, make sure you have the following:

  • Business cards or networking cards to share/exchange contact information.
  • A list of pain points you’re currently experiencing in your business. (Unless you recognize where the pain points and cracks are in your business, you won’t be able to seek solutions.)
  • A list of questions for session speakers, vendors, etc.

When you take the time to think through these things ahead of time, you can make sure you’ve left the show with all of your questions answered.

5. Schedule Meetings Ahead of Time

Conferences can get a little crazy.

With numerous people attending an event, workshops and vendor tables can get crowded, and often, the people you want to connect with to get your questions answered are occupied.

Instead of setting yourself up to feel like you’re waiting in line at the DMV all day, why not avoid this by reaching out to the people you need to connect with ahead of time and then schedule your meetings for during the show? You still get the benefit of face-to-face interaction, but without all of the time wasted.

6. Get Social

Trade shows and conferences are a great way to connect with other printers in the same trenches as you. Networking is the name of the game at these events.

If you’re not a social butterfly, there’s still another way you can network as an introvert: social media.

Plan to use social media while at the show to communicate with your customers. Not only will they see that you’re seeking education to serve them better, but they’ll also see you as an industry leader.

7. Gather Info and Follow Up

Lastly, the idea of a “what happens at a trade show stays at a trade show” does not work here.

It’s essential that you set aside some time after the show (before you leave) to work through what information you’ve gathered. You can take what you’ve learned, follow through with any after-show follow-up or meetings, and then set concrete action steps for what you’re going to do next.

It’s a good idea to keep some notes when you’re at the show, noting any necessary follow-up action steps that need to be taken after the show.

See you soon!

Updated February 2020