One of the aspects of business travel for many road warriors is trade shows, events, conferences, etc.
Whether you’re working them or just attending them, they can be an absolute grind that becomes even more of a challenge.
Those very long days and sometimes even longer nights expose many of our already bad road habits on the first day let alone an entire event!
I remember my very 1st large trade show that I was “working the booth” as we often say.
It was in Orlando in the early spring so I was thrilled by the weather coming from Chicago. Silly me to think I would get to enjoy ANY of that Florida sunshine. The show hours were ridiculous, then the customer dinners and corporate events/parties at night.
I was young, ambitious, foolish, and did NOT know how to pace myself in those early days.
For someone who’s never worked or attended these type of events, they somehow seem more glamorous than the true reality.
I rarely saw the sun, ate whatever and whenever I could. I was unable able to enjoy the hotel except crash on the bed in a complete coma which seemed like a nap then wash-rinse-repeat.
My voice was shot, my feet hurt, I was tired of giving the same elevator pitch to people who too often could care less, and I had my fill.
And the more my role changed and my title increased, the more responsibilities I had on any given day of an event.
At one point, I was working the booth, in meeting rooms, hosting dinners, attending 2-3 corporate events into the wee hours of the morning, then having to get up early for key breakfast meetings.
Day after day after day after day.
I did NOT know what I didn’t know and just grinded myself through the trade show / conference season not knowing there was any other way.
Here are three of the Most Common Challenges I Faced
1. Food-Related = how do I find a decent place to eat on a trade show floor or conference? And it’s a challenge with going right to an event after the show to a corporate event that only serves appetizers.
2. Sleep-Related = I get more sleep at home with an infant than I do during the week of a trade show event or conference!
3. Health-Related = all I do is stand and I’m wiped out. No time to workout and even if i did, I wouldn’t have the energy.
What can you do to not only survive a trade show or event on the road but really thrive?
I mean the kind of thrive where you stand out as the show goes on while others are tanking big time?
Three Event Realities:
Reality Number One – Only you can take care of you – most barely do on a normal travel week but all the more the week of a trade show and/or conference
Reality Number Two – You don’t have to attend every event or be there every moment
Reality Number Three – Winging it is a horrible plan – too many business people just “go with the flow”
So, how do you do more than survive a trade show on the road…?
CREATE A PLAN…
Four Thrive Plan Essentials at an Event
1. Sleep Schedule
I start with this because on these grueling weeks, this is the 1st priority to go. You look at the average person on day two not to mention day three and they’re a walking coma.
Sleep is our biggest performance enhancer on the road but it seems to become even less of a priority with a brutal morning-to-night event schedule.
We MUST prioritize sleep and remember reality #1 – only you can take care of you I know the amount of sleep I need to be sharp – not just coherent – so I need to do whatever I can to guard that sleep time.
When you’re tired you make tired choices that are the path of least resistance and are only convenient, rarely healthy or the smartest choice.
Michael Hyatt often says, “the more tired I am, the dumber I get.”
I’m starting with the biggest ask in guarding your sleep, but it’s the biggest difference maker to your energy especially at a trade show or an event.
You need even more sleep at trade shows, conferences, events because you’re consuming far more of your energy so make sure you guard your sleep ESPECIALLY your 1st and last night.
Why those nights? Get your event off to a good start and the last night you want to start removing the sleep debt you put yourself in and you don’t want to be a complete train wreck and useless to those back home.
Event Tip – if you’re at an event, don’t make a HUGE DEAL when you decide to leave. No one ever really knows unless you make a huge deal that you’re taking off. I’ve found when I used to make this BIG ANNOUNCEMENT, this is when the peer-pressure came in full force – and… I often caved. But if you just slip out to go to the bathroom then head out the door instead of back into the madness, you’ve just pulled off a masterful escape.
An ERW (Elite Road Warrior) knows when it’s time to go and is shameless about it. They know who they need to see at a corporate event or party, they know the end goal of that conversation and when they’re just hanging around just to hang out. Look at the bigger picture and what an extra hour at a late night event will do for you in the long run compared to an hour of quality sleep.
We normally don’t consume enough water on an average day, but Continually Hydrate is a key focus area.
You need to be responsible for your own water which starts with carrying your own water bottle. I don’t know, maybe an ERW branded water bottle with a slick handle? Just sayin.
You need to stay hydrated if you’re up on your feet and talking to people all day. There are often places to “fill up” water but rarely anything to put water in more than a toddler dixie cup so BYOWB (bring your own water bottle)
Also, for you “adult beverage drinkers”… you absolutely must join the free 1:1 Match Program – create a rule that you won’t have a 2nd drink until you finish your glass or bottle of water.
This alone is a game changer for those who decide to get the happy hour drink and I don’t know, 4pm when they start serving it, hit 1-3 corporate events/parties and a customer dinner!
And shockingly, you don’t have to drink everything offered to you. Often, I save it for the “better stuff” later – you can take a pass just don’t try and make it all up later.
Another tip, know when you’ve had enough and just switch to water. Nobody there knows and to be honest, nobody really cares. They may actually like you better if you stopped a beverage or three ago!
The point? Get watered down, man.
Have water be your companion all throughout the day but especially the last hour before bed.
3. Meal Planning
I used to consume the worst food that was so overpriced and did absolutely NOTHING for my energy.
I inhaled it and felt like I ate nothing, but was reminded a couple hours later when my body’s trying to process it. I’m stinking up the joint looking around like it was someone else.
Remember, Food is FUEL and FUEL is ENERGY.
When you don’t eat or you eat poorly, it’s a direct correlation to our energy and that’s exactly what we need to not just survive but thrive at an event.
As a result, control what you can control and that starts with breakfast. Make sure you’re taking time for a Clean and Green breakfast to at a bare minimum set up your day guaranteeing you have a strong base if you don’t know what will happen the rest of the day.
Do whatever you can to guard your lunch break. If you’re working a booth, you’ll get a lunch break. Maximize it.
I always and I mean always do intel on my options, how long it will take to get there and what food will be available for me.
If I’m not working a trade show floor, I have even more control and less excuses. Many conferences offer a lunch so MTHC (Make the Healthiest Choice).
Remember, food is fuel and fuel is energy. Where most people crash is in the mid-to-late afternoon depending on what they had for lunch.
Don’t be THAT guy or THAT girl.
Take control of your food because Food is Fuel and Fuel is Energy
4. Maximize Your Breaks
You have breaks at an event beyond your lunch break. Ask for them. Guard them.
Make the most of them – find or do something that brings you energy not consumes more energy
2. Go Outside
3. Watch or Read Something
These sound crazy and require effort but remember, you’re NOT everyone else. You’re an Elite Road Warrior and your behavior is different as a result.
Here’s a Tip that combines #3 Meal Planning and this one, #4 Maximize Your Breaks:
Create a Snack Bag – I have a certain small lunch bag I carry with me to “Carry a Controlled Substance” and not be caught off guard. Normally I use these on the road but especially for the Trade Show / Conference / Event Week.
And even more so if I’m working a trade show. I’m a captive audience and that mid to late afternoon crash can be avoided and this is one of the biggest ways – having a healthy snack that is easily accessible.
You need to take control of your day. Let me give you a recent example.
I was in Vegas at a trade show after walking the show floor and had an event to attend in the early evening before a client dinner.
In the past, I talk myself out of going back to my hotel room due to all the effort and choose the path of least resistance and just stay at the event and drink cheap beer or wine and eat unhealthy appetizers.
This time, though, I choose to make the effort to go back to my room, workout for just 10 minutes in my room for some energy, FaceTimed with the fam, had a healthy snack (since I had a kitchen in my room and that was done on purpose!).
At that point I was more than ready for my evening with two corporate events and a dinner.
It can be done.
Let’s Land This Plane
There is a way to do more than survive a trade show and/or event whether your working or just attending it.
I want to challenge you. You have more choices than you realize when you’re at or working an event such as a trade show, conference, etc. Most “go with the flow and react” but not an ERW.
We have a THRIVE PLAN then execute it no matter what those around us are doing or not doing. If you can learn to take control in the toughies like an event, you’ve got this for the normal business travel trip.
Leverage that for road for YOU to become an ERW today.
You Got This!