Modern Business Tools: Mastering Trade Shows, Conventions and Expos

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There are fundamental differences between trade shows, conventions and expos and they each serve a specific purpose in the world of commerce.

Companies like can be regularly seen at trade shows and expos, as they represent a great way of advertising your business and finding new customers, whereas a business seminar is clearly a different proposition and will be geared towards lectures and learning.

Understanding the difference between these useful business tools, can help you to make the most of them.

Attending a conference

The basic definition of a conference is a formal meeting where business people gather in order to talk about specific ideas or maybe attempt to resolve some issues.

Conferences are invariably formal and have a set structure to them, but they do still represent a possible chance to network with key individuals within your particular industry.

Although there is a defined structure to these events with speakers throughout the day and various events organized, there are still breaks in the day where you get a chance to network.

A conference will invariably have a professional feel to it so your attire and mindset need to match that atmosphere if you are going to create the right impression for you and your business.


A convention can be perceived in the same vein as a conference but a convention will invariably have a different feel and purpose, as well as less formality compared to a structured conference.

The primary purpose of a convention is to meet with people who share a common interest and discuss current topics as well as swap thoughts and ideas with each other.

You might still find speakers arranged at conventions but the general atmosphere is much more light-hearted and there are still often plenty of chances to network and even find prospective clients for your business.

The purpose of a trade show

Probably one of the easiest business tools of this kind to define is the trade show.

The fact that it is called a trade show, tells you that this is an exhibition organized with the specific purpose of getting people together who all work in a specific industry, so that the latest products and ideas can be demonstrated.

A trade show also gives you the chance to see what your rivals are doing and gauge market trends, but it also allows you the opportunity to showcase your goods or services to buyers who need them and attend the shows to find new ideas and contacts.

If you have a product or service that you are trying to establish in the marketplace, a trade show will often be a great arena for spreading the word and gauging the level of interest in what you have to offer.

The chance to improve your business

All of these different business tools help to serve a purpose and if you use them in the right way and are committed to the concept once you have decided to attend, you will give yourself the best chance of success.

There are numerous local, regional and national events being staged throughout the year and although they generally provide the scenario that will enable you to achieve some objectives when you attend, you do need to learn how to use them effectively.

As with many things, the more events you attend the more accomplished you become in getting the most out of your attendance and over a period of time, you will probably get to gauge which events are good for you and which ones aren’t suited to your needs or objectives.

Face-to-face networking opportunities can prove to be a successful way to grow your business and can also be a cost-effective way of forming valuable new relationships which will enable you to grow and expand your business.

Getting the most out of your attendance

Understanding the difference between conferences, seminars, trade shows and expos, will allow you to target specific events in the calendar and make sure that your investment in travel costs and expenses is rewarded with some valuable contacts made.

The type of event you should attend is mainly dependent on not just how much time and money you have available within the business, but also on what goals you are aiming to accomplish for you and your business.

Big national events are obviously well attended and will have an entirely different feel to a more localized event, although both have their place in the calendar and can prove equally rewarding.

Once you have attended a few events, you will soon learn to master the best to grow your business through these useful business tools.

Jim Tully is the commercial vehicle manager for Prime Motor Group’s various Mercedes-Benz Sprinter locations. Jim lives in the Merrimack Valley with his wife and two young children.


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