For roofing contractors, February, March and April usually mean traveling to trade shows and viewing packed exhibition halls. But this year, many industry organizations are moving their shows to a virtual format. Even the International Roofing Expo (IRE), the industry’s largest trade show, has moved its in-person show to August 2021 and is hosting a virtual expo March 2-4, 2021.
It’s still important to take advantage of these roofing trade shows, even if they’re virtual—after all, this is the time of year to explore new technology and learn from industry experts so you can hit the ground running during the busy season. But it can be challenging to figure out how to approach a virtual trade show. Here are some ways to help you make the most of attending a virtual roofing trade show and ensure it benefits your business.
5 Ways to Make the Most of Virtual Roofing Trade Shows
Tip #1: Have a Game Plan
Having a game plan in place is key for getting the most out of any roofing trade show, and it goes double for virtual ones. Many organizations are taking advantage of the virtual format to offer even more educational content than usual, as well as the opportunity to connect with vendors and exhibitors on an individual basis, so you’ll need to be prepared to focus on what’s most important to your roofing business or you’ll easily get overwhelmed.
Take a look at the schedule for the virtual trade show you’ll be attending and review all the options, such as educational seminars, Q&A sessions, and demonstrations of new products. Based on what’s most interesting to you, what would be most valuable to your roofing business, and the amount of time you have, make your own schedule for the virtual trade show and add it to your calendar. This will help you prioritize the things that will benefit your business and keep you from overloading your schedule.
In addition, don’t forget about on-demand content, like brochures you can download with details about new products or educational sessions that get recorded and can be watched later. You may not have time to attend everything you want to attend during the show itself, but this on-demand material can help you get even more out of the trade show and allow you to extend the learning past the show dates.
Tip #2: Take Great Notes
You’ve filled your schedule for the virtual roofing trade show, and you’re excited about what you’ll learn. But it can be hard to concentrate on a virtual talk, and you don’t want to miss out on any valuable information. How can you stay engaged and make sure that you remember what you’ve learned so you can pass it on to the rest of your roofing company?
Taking detailed notes throughout the presentation is a great way to maintain focus during a virtual seminar or educational session. Since you’re already on your computer, it’s simple and straightforward to take notes on the side as you watch virtual programming. Most people find that taking notes helps them stay more engaged, identify key takeaways, and generate questions to ask a speaker. And once the trade show is over, it’s easy to share those notes with everyone else on your team so you can pass along what you learned and use it to benefit your business.
#3: Connect Virtually With Industry Experts
During an in-person trade show, there are many opportunities to interact with industry experts and view new technology options. You can walk the show floor and visit a booth that looks interesting, or join a company for a happy hour or special presentation. With a virtual trade show, connecting with industry experts and exhibitors is much less organic—but is still well worth your time.
Most virtual trade shows are offering attendees the chance to meet one-on-one with exhibitors and see demonstrations of new technology. For instance, at IRE’s virtual roofing expo, you can meet with AccuLynx reps one-on-one and get an in-depth look at how our software works. While it may seem awkward to set up a meeting rather than stroll up to a booth, now is the time of year when it’s essential to research new technology and find products that will help you succeed during busy season. Don’t hesitate to reach out to exhibitors and schedule demonstrations—you just might find the exact technology solution you’ve been looking for. And with one-on-one meetings, you’ll have an easier time asking questions and getting details about how a technology would help your company specifically than you would on a crowded show floor.
Tip #4: Plan for Burnout
2020 taught us all that there is such a thing as too many video calls and virtual meetings. After a certain amount of time staring at a screen, you’re likely to start feeling burnt out. This is especially true for a longer event such as a virtual roofing trade show. In order to make the most of the event, you’ll need to anticipate screen fatigue and take steps to mitigate it.
Building a schedule for yourself that isn’t overly packed is a good first step to avoiding burnout, since it will allow you to focus on what’s most important to your business. It’s also important to schedule breaks and time away from your screen during the show, no matter how much you may want to see everything. Planning for this downtime will help you avoid screen fatigue and keep you energized for the rest of the virtual trade show. Trying to do it all will lead to burnout, but finding a balance between content and time away will help you get more out of the parts of the roofing show you do attend. And if you feel yourself getting burnt out anyway, don’t hesitate to take a break—you can always come back to the trade show later.
Tip #5: Have Fun
Roofing trade shows are places to network with others in the industry, learn more about new technology, and hear how industry leaders achieved success. They’re also a lot of fun, and often have many social events built in to the schedule. Attending virtually might seem like it takes all the fun out of a trade show, but with a little strategizing, you can still make a virtual roofing trade show into an enjoyable experience.
One way to keep the fun in a virtual trade show is to attend with colleagues, just like you would at an in-person trade show. Plan to attend some sessions together, then take some time during the day to talk about what you learned. (If you’re working in person, you could even spend your screen breaks with colleagues.) Some virtual roofing trade shows, including IRE, are hosting special social events and virtual happy hours to help you make the connections you’re used to making at an in-person trade show, so consider attending these events. And don’t forget to appreciate the perks of a virtual trade show, like the ability to access content from the comfort of your home. The more you can find to enjoy in your virtual trade show experience, the more you’ll get out of the show itself.
Don’t Miss Out on Virtual Roofing Trade Shows in 2021
Many roofing trade shows will follow a different format this year than in years past. But with a few adjustments, the right strategy, and a positive attitude, you can still learn a lot and find new tools for your roofing business during a virtual trade show. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of these learning opportunities—you just might find what your roofing business needs to have a more successful 2021. And if you’re attending the IRE virtual roofing expo, make sure you take some time to connect with us at AccuLynx and get answers to your questions about roofing software.