How to Enjoy and Get The Most Out Of The International Builders Show
Nearly a quarter of a century ago, I went to my first International Builders Show. It was in Dallas, Texas. The building industry was booming and the show drew tens of thousands if not over a hundred thousand people. I can remember walking into the main exhibit hall and not being able to see the other end of the row, it was so far away. There were products everywhere. There were people wall to wall. The energy was palpable. I started walking and talking. I took brochure after brochure. Before long I was overwhelmed… and then I realized I hadn’t even finished the first row.
Going to IBS is one of my favorite things to do in the building industry. It is always at the beginning of the year when people are excited and hopeful. I love learning new things and reconnecting with old friends. However, the real nuggets of the show were always found in the educational sessions. Room after room of industry experts telling you what, when, how, why and who… and all of it for basically free (yes you have to buy a pass, but the price per session is nearly zero if you attend a few). These are owners, presidents, consultants, experts and other people that charge a lot of money for this information that are giving it away. The biggest problem I always had and still have when I go to the show is where to invest my time.
How do you get the most out of your attendance? With that in mind, I thought I would throw out a few tips from someone who has attended more times than I can count.
TIP 1: WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES
Every year I see people in what appear to be really uncomfortable shoes walking literally miles of the floor. Style may have to go out the window for a few days and be replaced with walking shoes. You will walk and walk and walk and then get to the exhibits where you will walk a whole lot more… Day 2 will be pretty miserable if you can barely take a step.
TIP 2: BRING A BACKPACK
Though the bags of marketing material have been largely replaced by emailed or mailed info, some smaller vendors that have some really cool and unique things still give out material. A backpack will save you from the pain of carrying a bag around and allow you to still shake hands and carry a drink.
TIP 3: PICK SPECIFIC PRODUCTS OR VENDORS TO SEE
Try and plan out some products or vendors you want to check out so you can be sure to check them off of your list. A few days seems like a long time until you try and see hundreds of booths and add in educational seminars.
TIP 4: CEMENT RELATIONSHIPS
I try to always plan my routes to assure myself of going by some of my featured vendors booths. I shake hands, meet a few folks and make sure they know who I am so that one day when I need help, they will take the call.
TIP 5: GO TO THE EDUCATIONAL SEMINARS
I start with a goal of taking one actionable item from each 1 hour talk. Just 1. If I go to 6 seminars, that is a lot of things to put into action! I also always plan 2 seminars I want to attend each hour. I go to the first one and if within a few minutes I am not getting anything, I leave and go to the next. No reason to waste time in one that doesn’t click with your needs.
TIP 6: THANK THE VENDORS AND SPEAKERS
The vendors make the show possible and the speakers and trainers make the education possible. I remember as a young builder being invited to dinners, get togethers, etc. The vendors introduced me to important people and went out of their way to make me feel like family. The speakers gave me information, answered questions, and taught a young, naïve builder a few lessons that I didn’t have to go learn myself the hard way. The building community is a giant family. We compete with each other, but we also watch out for our own.