If you're exhibiting at this year's Natural Products Expo West, being on the show floor is your time to shine. But it’s important to remember that even the time before and after the official show can be incredibly valuable for networking. You never know who you might meet and where: The person in the hotel elevator with you could connect you to your next big retail account. Or the person in front of you in the Starbucks line could be a blogger who’s influential with your target demographic.
"Some of my best connections happen when I’m able to connect to someone as a person rather than as a business contact," says Craig Spalding, marketing director for 1908 Brands. "It could be in line for the restroom, at a restaurant close by or when we’re sneaking in a moment of rest at the comfortable chairs in a nearby hotel lobby."
Vincent Kitirattragarn, founder of Dang, says he thinks the majority of significant interactions actually happen after the show, when everyone is out enjoying their time at parties or dinners. “This is when you see buyers out and about, with their guards down,” he says.
Many brands and retailers throw their own events, but don’t forget that there are plenty of networking opportunities built into the official Expo West schedule. There’s live music on the Grand Plaza Main Stage on Thursday, Friday and Saturday that’s free with a badge and draws a wide variety of attendees. Relax, enjoy a beverage, and maybe meet some folks you didn’t get to meet on the show floor. There’s also early morning yoga on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. (See the full list of events here.)
And speaking of Sunday—don’t even think about packing up early. "With booths being added every year and more people at the show, it’s harder for retailers to quickly navigate the show floor—especially if they have a small team," says New Hope Network’s Community and Conference Content Director Jenna Fitch. "(There’s value in) being patient through the end of the show and making sure that you give retailers every chance to make time to come see you while you’re in Anaheim."