10 Ways to Make the Most Out of The 2019 NPGA ExpoApril 5, 2019 | By: Energy Engine
For Both Attendees and Exhibitors
The NPGA Southeastern Convention and International Propane Expo is the propane industry’s largest convention event, and with it comes a load of opportunity. The event hosts more than 3,000 members of the propane industry from marketers to suppliers, from the U.S. and beyond.
There is a lot that any exhibitor or attendee can get out of the conference. But if you are not prepared and ready to absorb as much as possible, you could miss out on some of the best the expo has to offer.
Before you pack up and head out to the 2019 NPGA Expo, check out these 10 tips to help you get the most out of the conference.
1. Business first, weekend second.
If your weekend is going to be a working one, you might as well get the most out of your trip. Make sure you have all the business materials you need, and then some. Business cards, company merchandise, note-taking tools, access passes, and conference schedules are key. The more prepared you are for the 2019 NPGA Expo, the more value you will get out of your experience.
2. Research, research, research.
Part of being prepared is knowing exactly what you are getting into, and how you can use it to your advantage. Familiarize yourself with the floor plan, the daily schedule, the sponsors, the speakers, and most of all, how each one could be of value to your operations. It may be more valuable to spend extensive, detailed time with a select handful of exhibitors and speakers rather than testing out every option on the floor. Fill your schedule, but be sure to devote time to networking as well. It’s not a waste of time to mingle and chat amongst the crowd between speakers if you’re having a productive discussion. By walking through the exhibit hall during sessions, the vendors won’t be as busy and you can take advantage of some great networking opportunities.
3. Don’t waste your attendance.
If you are a company that provides services to the industry and it will be your first time attending NPGA, it might be more valuable for you to attend purely as an attendee rather than an exhibitor. If it is your first time heading to NPGA, it is likely more valuable to attend the conference purely as an attendee rather than join as an exhibitor. Promotion at big events like this are great for business, but if you aren’t a seasoned trade show or expo veteran, you may be wasting money on a booth when you don’t know the best way to use that space. On the other hand, if you are confident in your business’ ability to earn a strong ROI off the price of the booth, make the investment. Whatever the best opportunity for your business is at the 2019 NPGA Expo, do not leave it on the table.
4. Network the right way.
Try to find a way to identify conference organizers, vendors, and industry experts before the conference. Outside of the 2019 NPGA Expo exhibitors list, spend some time before the show looking through LinkedIn, business “About” pages, and industry association members lists to find key players you will want face time with. Networking at large industry events such as these is often the biggest reason people attend, and they’ll be looking to talk with you too. Be sure to make connections with those in attendance you think can provide the most insight for your business — but don’t forget to be a person too. If you network like it’s a chore, people will know, and you’ll do more harm than good.
5. Keep your ducks in a row.
With the number of new contacts, businesses, emails, and phone numbers you are likely to receive while at the 2019 NPGA Expo, your wallet is going to run out of space. Make sure you are noting, organizing, and sorting the materials, contacts, and information you want to keep. Shoving papers and cards into your briefcase or wallet may seem like the best idea in the moment, but it will only set you back when you get home and want to actually use that data to make business decisions. You’ll be unorganized and demotivated despite all the value at your fingertips. Start sorting your takeaways early and you’ll thank yourself later. The NPGA app can be a great resource for users to review speaker information, their personal planner, session tracks, and many more features.
6. Make yourself easy to remember.
Everyone in attendance with a business card and a handshake will look to make an impression. The key is to make it easy for people to follow up with you if they want to. The last thing you want is them remembering your great conversation but misplacing your business card. Exchange emails, phone numbers, websites, or any other contact information into each other’s phones if you can. If their phone number is on their card, shoot them a quick text with your name before you put the card away. Cement yourself somewhere you can’t be lost.
7. Set goals, and plan to meet them.
Who do you want to talk with at this conference? How many contacts do you want to walk away with? What statistics, figures, price points, or metrics does your business need you to bring back? Don’t walk onto the 2019 NPGA Expo floor with your only gameplan being a good smile and a positive attitude. Have a specific intent. By setting specific goals, you will avoid spreading yourself too thin and feeling unsure where to spend your time.
8. Your phone is your friend.
We’ve already touched on how valuable your phone can be for ensuring networking follow-ups happen, but it doesn’t stop there. If you are an exhibitor, take advantage of conference hashtags, take pictures, and share your location on social media as a quick and easy promo for your business. It’s not a waste of time — it’s just another investment in your business. If your business gets featured in an official social media compilation by the NPGA, you just created easy PR value out of a couple of minutes of effort. That’s great ROI.
9. Think beyond this weekend.
The 2019 NPGA Expo officially ends on Monday, but to get the most out of your attendance, you should be getting your value’s worth long after that date. Take the time to see if there are any additional trade shows, conferences, or events that the people, speakers, or exhibitors you met are promoting. NPGA is a massive exhibition, but it will likely be easier to get the personal time you want with specific businesses if you can reach them on a smaller stage. Showing an interest in a contact’s sponsored event is just another way of making yourself more memorable, and it takes the pressure off this weekend to get every possible connection cemented in stone in three days. Be proactive, thoughtful, and interested in how NPGA can pay dividends in two, four, or six months, and you may end up having your ticket pay for itself.
10. The real work begins when you get back home.
For exhibitors, on the way back home, begin composing personalized emails to all of the new contacts you made at the conference. Keep it brief but include your company name and what you do, and how you could benefit them. If your emails are short, friendly, and personal you’ll likely have a higher chance at turning that trade show small talk into a real connection.
You can get so much more than branded pens and notepads out of a conference like NPGA 2019. Strategically planning for the conference will make sure you get the most out of the experience, as well as the leads to help you grow your business. After things have settled down, review your notes and see what worked and what didn’t.
Learn from your successes and what you saw from other booths, adjust, and get ready for next year’s show. As long as you’re prepared and follow the steps above, you’ll be reaping the benefits of NPGA 2019 long after the convention is over.