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  -  Fashion Business   -  9 Amazing Tips For Productive Tradeshows

Attending tradeshows can be exhausting. So much to see and accomplish in such a short amount of time without the right preparation can make a costly trip mostly useless. We are breaking down our top tips on how to make the most of your tradeshow visits so that you walk away with the solutions you really came for. 

1. Choose the right shows for your business. 

There is literally a tradeshow for everything, but not every trade show is right for your business. First, identify what your goals are for attending a tradeshow. Are you looking for new suppliers or manufacturers? Do you produce large or small quantity orders? Do you want to focus on a domestic or overseas supply chain? Are you a buyer looking to discover indie brands? What is your price point? All of these questions are going to be helpful to steer you towards choosing the most productive tradeshow for your company. 

2. Have a plan and set goals. 

Most tradeshows have more vendors than you can possibly spend time with throughout the course of the two to three days that it is open for. In order to get the most out of any show, make a list ahead of time that details out your absolute/immediate needs and your future opportunities or trends.  You want to spend the most time focusing on your immediate needs. Look at the exhibitor list ahead of time to plan which booths you must not miss. Mark them with an A (absolute) and F (future) and chart your course. It will save time if you are not zig-zagging all over the show floor so plan your time so that you can spend the most time addressing your absolute needs. However, nothing is worse than leaving a tradeshow and two weeks, or two months later thinking about some amazing material you saw but didn’t stop for because you did not have a need for it then. Tradeshow books give you contact information for all suppliers, but once you are away from the tradeshow floor and cannot see their materials, or speak face to face, it becomes much harder to remember exactly what a vendor has for you if you are otherwise unfamiliar with them, or forget exactly which booth you saw that amazing sample in. 

3. Set up meetings. 

Attendance at trade shows tend to ebb and flow throughout the day. If you are trying to make the most of your time, approaching an exhibitor when each representative is working with other clients, and there are three others perusing through their booth can really start affecting your schedule. Set up a meeting time with the key exhibitors that you would like to meet with so that you can have more control over your day.  

4. Do not forget your business cards and a pen. 

This may sounds like a no brainer but I have seen countless tradeshow visitors that show up without any contact information at all. If you do not yet have official business cards, or do not plan to order business cards, mock one up, print out at least one and carry it so that exhibitors can easily take down your information or even take a photo of your card for easy reference. If you are trying to go paperless, create a digital business card, or even a QR code that you can send or to people so they have your contact information easily. Personally though, even though I love being as paper-free as possible, sometimes, physical business cards are the best visual reminder! Not only are tradeshows great for sourcing or selling your products, they are a perfect networking opportunity, so make sure to go prepared. 

5. Cultivate relationships

We work in a global supply chain environment. It is unlikely that ever single piece of your supply chain comes from your neighborhood supplier. Tradeshows provide the opportunity to sit face to face with vendors that you may not get to see often and cultivate relationships that can sometimes be challenged by distance and infrequent visits. Creating strong relationships with your suppliers is one of the most important reasons to attend a tradeshow. These days we can pretty much achieve anything solely via email and text, without ever speaking to someone on the phone or in person, creating a very faceless, insincere relationship. Getting to know your suppliers makes both them, and you, more human to each other and can really provide better working relationships in the future. Even if you are not currently doing business with, or have a specific need from a particular exhibitor that you have worked with in the past, don’t forget to stop by and say hello. Reintroduce yourself if needed and check in with them. The next time you need something from them you will likely have a warmer reception and you may even be able to start negotiating better terms and pricing!

6. Take advantage of seminars and speaker sessions.

Don’t forget to check out the seminars and speaker line-ups of the show ahead of time. There are often education series and hot-topic discussions happening at shows that can help keep you informed on what’s happening in the industry, give insight on trends and resources, and can provide strong networking opportunities.   

7. Allow time for getting inspired

Mostly categorized under “future” is keeping your eyes peeled for inspiration. Allow yourself some time to explore more than what you came there specifically for. There are often strong trends that can be seen at tradeshows from color, to print, to the new must-have fabric finish or silhouette design. Take it in, get inspired but the raw materials that your seeing and ideas on how they can be put together in new and exciting ways. Pay attention also to what is missing, what’s next, and the more subtle trends that are creeping up. Tradeshows can get hectic and time can go by quickly but leaving yourself sometime to stroll the floor more casually can sometimes lead you to the most exciting find. 

8. Always recap your trip. 

It’s easy to think while your at a tradeshow that you will remember everything you saw, every conversation and all of the inspiring thoughts that you may have. Chances are, by next week, you won’t. It’s great to take notes as you go through the show as well as recapping at the end of each day and/or end of each show what were your major takeaways, important vendors to follow up with, who you are waiting on swatches from, etc. In the rush of the day you may start to have notes in different places, business cards might start getting mixed, and the amount of information you get in the course of two days can be enough to make your head explode. Plan for 30 minutes each day to recap and organize your thoughts and follow up lists.  See a recent tradeshow recap that we posted here.

9. Don’t forget to have fun. 

And always say yes to the chocolate! 

Below is a list of some upcoming tradeshows from May through August. Suite Creative Studio will be exhibiting at DG EXPO The Fabric and Trim Show held at The Palmer House in Chicago this summer on August 27thand 28th. If you will be at the show, we would love to meet you and have you attend our seminar! 

Don’t forget to leave your thoughts in the comments. Let us know which shows your going to this season or ones your planning to attend in the Fall! 

Apparel, Textile and Trade Shows Spring/Summer 2019:

MAY 2019

Apparel Textile Sourcing Miami | Trade Show

            Mana Wynwood Convention Center, Miami FL

            MAY 28th– MAY 30th

JUNE 2019

International Textile Alliance Showtime

            305 W High Ave, High Point, NC

            JUNE 2nd– June 5th

COAST Fashion Trade Exhibition

            Moore Bldg., Miami FL

            JUNE 3rd– JUNE 4th

MODA

            Jacob K Kravit’s Convention Center, New York, NY

            JUNE 9th-JUNE 11th

OFFPRICE New York

            Penn Plaza Pavilion, New York, NY

            JUNE 10TH– JUNE 11TH

NorthStar Fashion Exhibition

            Saint Paul River Centre, St Paul, MN

            JUNE 16th– JUNE 17th

Midwest Apparel Tradeshow

            Embassy Suites by Hilton Chicago North Shore, Deerfield IL

            JUNE 23RD– JUNE 24th

Global Shop @ Retail

            McCormick Place Chicago IL

            JUNE 25th-JUNE 26th

JULY 2019

COBB Trade Show

            Cobb Galleria Centre, Atlanta GA

            JULY 14th– July 15th

SPINEXPO New York

Brooklyn Expo Center, Brooklyn, NY

JULY 16th– July 18th

ComplexCon Chicago

            McCormick Place, Chicago, IL
            JULY 20th– JULY 21st

DG Expo New York Fabric Show

Hudson Mercantile, New York, NY

            JULY 22nd– July 23rd

TEXWorld Apparel Sourcing Show

            Jacob K Kravit’s Convention Center, New York, NY

            JULY 22nd– July 24th

Sourcing and Sustainability Summit 2019

            New York Stock Exchange, New York, NY

            JULY 22nd– JULY 23rd

U.S Functional Fabric Fair

            Jacob K Kravit’s Convention Center, New York, NY

            JULY 22nd– JULY 23rd

The West Coast Trend Show

            Embassy Suites by Hilton @ LAX, Los Angeles, CA
            JULY 27th– JULY 29th

STYLEMAX Chicago

            The Mart, Chicago IL

            JULY 28th– JULY 30th                                            

ASD Market Week

            Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, NV

            JULY 28th– JULY 31st

AUGUST 2019

Collective

            The Mart, Chicago IL

            AUG 4TH-AUGT 6TH

PrintSource New York

            Hotel Pennsylvania, New York, NY

            AUG 6th– AUG 7th

Magic Las Vegas

            Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, NV

            AUG 12th– AUG 14th

CURVE Las Vegas

            Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, NV

            AUG 12th– AUG 14th

PGA Fashion & Demo Experience

            The Venetian, Las Vegas, NV

            AUG 13th– AUG 14th

National Fabric Expo

            Nashville Airport Marriott, Nashville TN

            AUG 15th– Aug 16th

National Bridal Market Chicago

            The Mart, Chicago IL

            AUG 25th-AUG27th

DG EXPO The Fabric and Trim Show

            The Palmer House, Chicago IL

            AUG 27th– AUG 28th

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