If you’re a woodworker, by now you’re well aware that AWFS 2015 is going to be the biggest industry event of the year. Although the event is being held in the ever-alluring city of Las Vegas, it’s the show’s brand new demonstration stage and celebrity bookings that are causing the most buzz. In fact, woodworking veteran John Bassett III and Wayde and Brett from Animal Planet’s hit show TANKED! are set to make special appearances at this year’s festivities. It’s these new extras plus the unveiling of recent woodworking innovations that have event organizers and news outlets anticipating a more robust turnout than in previous years.
For most woodworkers out there, this event will seem like a dream come true. And if you’re one of the lucky few who gets to witness it up close, then the dream is a titillating reality. But before you let your excitement take over, it’s essential to lock down your attendance strategy so you can make the most of what’s sure to be a history-making trade show.
To help you get into gear for the biggest woodworking expo around, here are seven tips to keep in mind as you prepare for the show:
- Think Ahead: Going into AWFS blind is never a good idea. Not only will you miss out on important trade show happenings, but you’ll also feel a bit like a mouse in a maze. To avoid this, map out the booths you want to visit to make dashing between them all the more convenient. Another great approach is to set appointments with vendors ahead of time, so you can be first in line to get the information you need.
- Keep Distractions to a Minimum: While one area of the floor may have a few extras to lure you in (cool giveaways, attractive models, product samples, etc), you’ve got to keep things moving. Stay focused on your trade show objective, whether that’s increasing your woodworking knowledge or making the right connections to enhance your business prospects.
- Be Physically Prepared: The floor at AWFS is going to be huge, so wearing comfortable shoes to walk the grounds is probably the smartest thing you can do right off the bat. You should also bring snacks for those times when energy levels are low and food is hard to come by. Trust us, your feet and your stomach will be grateful.
- Stay ‘Til the End: Making the most of a trade show, whether it’s AWFS or some other event, sometimes means putting in long hours. And while setting aside seven hours a day for a woodworking event might seem like a big time commitment, it’ll pay off in the long run. Remember, AWFS is going to jam-packed with things to see and do, so leaving early might mean missing out on important networking opportunities, innovative product demos, or educational panels.
- Take Breaks: Even though we just told you to stay on the floor for as long as possible, that’s not to say you shouldn’t ever take breaks. Please do! Take time to eat, rest, and go to the bathroom. There’s just no way you can have fun without keeping your belly, bladder, and sanity intact!
- Rub Some Shoulders: Being a wallflower can be a beautiful thing, but when you’re at an event that’s vital to your industry, it’s essential to get out there and make connections. No matter which side of the vendor booth you’re on, being open to conversations about new products and services is a great way to enhance your woodworking knowledge and scope out potential business opportunities.
- Stay Organized: At their core, trade shows like AWFS are networking events, so you’re sure to leave with loads of business cards and brochures. Keep all this information organized by jotting down a few notes about each person you encounter. Whether you use a smartphone or notebook, recording specific details will help you remember who was worth following up with when you get home.
With all that in mind, remember to have fun. Although you want to be prepared for all the different opportunities that may spring up, trade shows are about standing on the cusp of innovation and coming face-to-face with the cutting edge. At AWFS 2015, you’ll be among the greatest innovators, inventors, and business folks of our time, and that definitely calls for a moment (or several) of serious reflection. So, take it all in and enjoy!