Eight Tips For Dental Trade Show Success

Rebecca Purrington


Trade shows have a reputation for being exhausting and overwhelming. Nonetheless, they’re essential for professionals of every industry, including the dental field. These events are a great way to see the latest products, watch live demonstrations, and meet a variety of exhibitors.

Whether you’re a veteran or a newbie, here are some tips on preparing for a dental trade show and making the most of it.

Start With a Plan

What’s your purpose in attending the show? Are you considering upgrading your technology? Interested in expanding your knowledge base? Looking for promos to give to patients?

By devising a plan before the show, you can avoid tedious crisscrossing around the conference that can cost you valuable time and energy. For example:

• Write down what you want to achieve and the types of vendors you hope to see.

• Download the conference map from the trade show’s website, as well as the app, if there’s one available.

• Determine what vendors you want to see and where they’re located so you can seamlessly move from booth to booth without backtracking.

Consider Skipping a Continuing Education Session

Here’s a good tip to keep in mind. Booths tend to be busiest on the first day of the show, and then traffic gradually recedes. Additionally, most booths will still be staffed when continuing education courses are being held. These are great moments to take advantage of the less than busy showroom floor. Consider missing a session or two so you can peruse the floor while everybody else is behind closed doors.

Bring Extra Business Cards

You never know who you’ll meet at dental trade shows, so it’s best to come overprepared, just in case. You’ll have the opportunity to speak with lots of vendors and other industry professionals, so it’s helpful to have your information ready to go. Carry a few business cards in your badge holder for easy access.

Dress Comfortably

Sure, you want to dress to impress. But you’ll also be on your feet most of the day, so it’s important to walk the line between professional attire and comfortable clothes. For women, consider swapping out heels in favor of fashion-forward flats that can go the long haul on concrete floors. For men, soft leather shoes that you’ve had a chance to properly break in should do the trick.

Prepare Questions

Whether you’re talking to vendors or attending a session, know what you want to take away from your time investment before arriving. Yes, some of your questions will be answered during the course of normal conversation. But you don’t want to forget about those questions that might not be answered organically. Come prepared with questions for each speaker and vendor to help you walk away with optimal knowledge about their programs and products. This is, after all, the best time to get those questions answered.

Set Up Appointments

If there’s a particular vendor you want to see or an exhibitor you must meet while you’re there, don’t chance the possibility that you could get pushed to the back of the line if their booths are super busy. Instead, put some time on those people’s calendars a week or two before the event to ensure you’ve solidified a spot with them.

Register Early

Most trade shows have early bird specials, which can save you hundreds of dollars per conference. Couple that with hotel discounts that are often available for early registrants, and you have a budget-friendly trip that could pay for itself with educational benefits. Besides the cost savings, you never know when there could be a hangup with your credentials or some other snafu that can cause delays. It’s always best to get the ball rolling as soon as possible to avoid last-minute stress.

Keep Your Phone Handy

You never know when you might want to take a picture of a product, business card, or other bit of information. While you shouldn’t be walking around answering emails during the conference, your phone can be your best friend when it’s time to take photos. Just be sure to ask permission before snapping a shot.

Trade shows should be exciting, not exhausting. By putting a few plans in place before you go, you can make the most of your time at the conference. Plus, you’ll likely find a handful of interesting vendors with which you might not have otherwise become acquainted.

Ms. Purrington is a promotional products expert with Crestline Custom Promotional Products. She has more than five years of consultative sales experience in the industry and holds degrees in both social/behavioral sciences and business management.