Tips for Buyers at a Trade Show

1. You don’t have to buy, but that doesn’t mean you have to be rude.

Look, I know attending a trade show as a buyer can be tough. All the exhibitors are looking for their big break, and when they see someone walking by with a buyer badge they think their ship has come in. That said, it doesn’t mean you need to be rude when someone offers to show you their product. Instead, be honest.

I’d rather a buyer tell me that they aren’t buying or that they aren’t looking for new products than have them be rude. At least I’ll know there’s no shot and I’ll move on to the next prospect.

Which leads me to my next two tips…

2. Look at everything

You never know what the next big thing is going to be so why not look at everything? Seriously. You’ve paid to be at the show, why not give yourself the time to look around and see what’s new. The next Coolest could be right in the next booth.

Additionally, looking at everything gives you – the buyer – an idea of the new trends. What are people making and selling? What are people buying? I can’t think of one good reason not to be aware of what’s trending.

3. Give someone a shot

Speaking of looking at everything, don’t be afraid to give a new company a shot. More specifically, if that new company has been persistent and aggressive all while being polite, give them a shot. Let them buy you a drink and tell you all about their product. I’m sure someone gave you a shot once. Pay it forward. It’s a risk – the product may not pan out. But there’s risk in not taking a shot too.

4. Trade your card for product samples

One thing I’ve learned at trade shows is how reluctant buyers are to hand out their business cards. I get that too. Buyers don’t want to be hassled by that exhibitor looking for their big break. Here’s an idea, trade your card for samples of products you like. Not for personal use, but to play around with. Sometimes a product only makes sense once you get your hands on it. If the product is too big, like a car or boat, offer your card for a test ride/drive.


In the end, you’re a buyer. It’s your job to look at products and test them.  Sometimes it’s easy to forget that, especially when you’re inundated with existing products. It might be easier to think of being a buyer as synonymous with being a tester.

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