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226 – PRO TIP – Win the Show Before You Go! Fill Your Calendar

Win the Show BEFORE You Go – Fill Your Calendar!

This is a Trade Show University Pro Tip episode – a short one, but one of the most powerful you’ll hear!

Win the show before you go…So what does that mean?  It means filling up your calendar with your top qualified prospects before you even get to the show.

Think about it.  What’s the main thing you are doing when exhibiting at the show?  Trying to connect with more qualified leads.  Right? 

Of course there are other great reasons for being at the show like branding, networking, checking out the competition, finding new vendors, suppliers and partners, and so much more.

But at the end of the day, it’s about building your business.  It’s about ROI.

So here’s what you do…

Figure out your calendar for the next show.  And when I say calendar, I’m not just talking about the hours the show floor is open.  But from the time you wake up to the time your head hits the pillow.

If you’re at the right show, then your target audience will be there.  You need to take advantage of this amazing opportunity!

So first block out any times you will not be available.  Times you are setting up your booth, any networking or other important events you need to be at, if you are attending or giving a talk.  Block all those out on your calendar.

Next – look at the show floor hours.  Now break those hours into 15 minute segments and make those available for meetings.  Then fill up those blocks with qualified prospects. 

Have your presentation dialed in from start to finish in 10 minutes or less.  Then get them out of your booth and get ready for the next meeting with a couple minute buffer.

Unless you are the only person working your booth, this works like dynamite.  Not only do you have qualified prospects continuously in your booth, but you also have activity in your booth!  So instead of you and your team waiting around trying to find the next prospect, you can be talking to a non-stop flow of prospects.

Now you should have blocked out any events pertaining to the show.  The next thing you do is look at all the open time you have remaining and make those available.  Breakfast meetings, lunch meetings, dinner meetings, late-night grab a drink meetings, go for an early morning run meetings.  Leave nothing off the table.

Will you be exhausted at the end of each day?  Absolutely! 

Will it be worth it?  100% YES!

So how do you find people to fill up your calendar?  Here’s a few ideas I’ll rapid fire to you…        

  • Your personal contacts
  • The show website or app – they will at very least have listed exhibitors and speakers.  I’m sure you can find a few in that list you may want to meet with. And some apps will even have those registered available to connect with.  Go through EVERY name.
  • LinkedIn or whatever social channels your target audience uses
  • Reach out to vendors in the industry and see if they can refer you to anyone
  • Exhaust your opportunities!

Last thing I’ll recommend is to set up a specific calendar just for the show.  I love using Calendly because it’s a free tool and you can list the specific time blocks you are available.  Send a link to those people and they can go in and schedule their own appointments.  Doesn’t get any easier than that!

Calendly is just one option. There are others.

Think of how your next show can go if you were intentional and aggressive about completely filling up your calendar with the right people!

Now go do it!

Want some help putting together a plan, we can jump on a Free 15-minute call.  Go to

I want to hear huge success stories from this plan! 

Connect with me – or

About the author, Jim

Jim Cermak has over 30 years of exhibiting, planning and working trade shows. As a Professional Trainer, he helps companies transform their results at trade shows, expos, events and conferences.

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