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How To Survive And Thrive At Trade Shows

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Both working and attending a trade show can be an incredible way to connect with like-minded people and brands, and to create new partnerships and opportunities. I have attended my fair share of conferences and shows, on my own, and with clients, and understand how much there is to do, see, and accomplish in a short amount of time.

This list includes some of my favourite tips and tools, and will help you get through your show well, in good health and work.

Wear good shoes. It's true, you want to look good to make a good impression, but this should not and cannot be at the expense of your comfort. You'll be walking and standing for a really long time, and if you want to keep up your endurance and that friendly (and authentically sincere) smile, you need to choose your footwear wisely so you aren't thinking about sitting down or your aching feet. I love to wear Po-Zu's natural and ethical shoes or boots -- walking on coconut soles make for comfort and conversation too. Another option is VivoBarefoot's running shoes that let your feet move in a way they are meant to.

Carry a water bottle. With all the talking you'll be doing throughout the show, you will want to stay well hydrated so you don't lose your voice. The air is often quite dry in convention centres, and you'll be busy making new connections, so you're likely to feel thirsty more than usual. Rather than spending money on overpriced water bottled in toxic plastic, creating waste, and having to go lineup to buy it, stay well hydrated and in your space by bringing your own glass or stainless steel bottle filled with clean water. If you are going to be refilling your bottle with tap water, I love keeping a Kishu Charcoal filter in my water bottle to clean up the water.

Bring a bag. Trade shows are a great place to collect samples from other like-minded vendors (only take what you really want and what will serve you), and maybe even a few purchases - how great is it to support your neighbours and community? Choose a reusable bag or two that are practical, functional, and made fairly, so you can keep your hands free.

Boost your energy.
Skip the coffee and opt instead for a mushroom coffee or my favourite, a mushroom hot cacao for extra stimulation (without the jitters), and a boost of energy. Look for cordyceps mushrooms that will provide balanced, long-term energy. Four Sigmatic makes individual pouches, which is perfect for on the go - just add hot or cold water. I also love matcha and wheatgrass - you can make the drink at home, or take a little in the bottom of a reusable bottle - just add liquid, shake and enjoy.

Boost your system. Being inside, shaking hands, fist bumping, giving hugs and kisses to hundreds of people at a show can expose us to a lot of germs, and when we are tired and run down, we want to make sure we stay healthy and "on". This propolis spray from Beekeeper's Naturals is 100% Canadian-made with high-grade Canadian bee propolis (95% extract). It is a great source of antioxidants, keeps your immune system strong, and even provides sore throat relief. I also love Host Defense MycoShield spray - flavoured with certified organic peppermint oil (or there is a cinnamon variety as well), mushroom-powered spray provides a unique "shield" of immune support. Both of these sprays are a perfect traveler's size and fits easily into your purse or pocket.

Sanitize your hands. Keep your hands clean between handshakes, and certainly before you eat to limit your exposure to germs (I also like a fist-bump over a handshake for health sake)! Washing your hands is best, but the soap in public bathrooms is not healthy (you know the bubblegum pink stuff loaded chemicals and stink). Choose an anti-microbial spray without toxic ingredients and fragrance, like Jade & Pearl hand sanitizer mist for your hands and the air around you, or Dr. Bronner's or EO's organic hand sanitizer spray, which soothes while it sanitizes with lavender essential oils, vitamin E, and echinacea extract.

Freshen your breath.
Don't worry about your breath - or about what's in your gum or mints! My top picks for gum and mints are tasty, fresh, and free of gross ingredients and artificial chemicals, like aspartame.

Stash some snacks. Fresh and unpackaged foods make for the best snacks, and meals, but sometimes you don't get the breaks you need, or the trade show floor doesn't offer real food options. The good news is that there are some great packaged options for fast food that are made with organic, whole ingredients - and more coming on the market every day it seems. Eating throughout the day will help keep your energy levels up and will keep you in good spirits, too (as long as you make good choices).

Make the most of new connections. Your trade show booth is the perfect place to connect with current and potential customers and other business owners. Take lots of pictures for social media, and collect email addresses from those who you will want to keep in touch with in the future. The Borden Snaps formula will show you how to get legal permission to use the photos you take and to contact new connections by email (trust us, you want this!), plus learn best practices for staying connected with everyone you meet.

Sleep well. Get your sleep before your long days, nothing will power you better. And, after you are done, sleep well knowing that you have done the best you could creating huge value for you and your brand.

Don't just survive a trade show, learn to enjoy them and thrive -- for yourself and your business.

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