Intersolar North America: Trade Show Advice

What is Intersolar North America? Intersolar North America is the largest solar trade show that is held once a year in North America; there are several Intersolar trade shows across the globe. They are scheduled for Europe, China, and India. About 20,000 visitors were expected to attend and 500 exhibitors were available to greet them. Companies showed off their latest and best technology. Intersolar North America was held last week in downtown San Francisco, CA in the Moscone Center.

Some advice for future attendance:

  1. Come with clear goals and purpose - There is a lot to do, but most of it is not free. Several special conference sessions cost about $800 USD. It already costs $100 to just get up the stairs and talk to exhibitors about their products. Some people come from around the world: China, India, Europe - and those plane tickets are not cheap. Account for employee salary and hotel stay and it becomes an even bigger cost to attend. If you come with clear goals and a purpose you'll have gotten the most out of a once a year event packed with all the North American Solar distributors and companies.
  2. Register in Advance - If you register in advance, you waive the $100 entry fee. Press is free.
  3. Organize a comfortable carry bag for all the information you'll attain - Use a backpack! I had a single strap laptop bag that just grew more burdensome with every spec sheet and business card I collected. Keep one pocket for your business cards. Keep another pocket to stuff the business cards of other people. Keep one pocket to stuff the spec sheets and product data. Keep one pocket for note taking material. Bring pens, markers, and pencils. Bring water because you'll be on your feet all day.
  4. Dress professional - Business casual style was okay, but if you're out there to make a major deal, the players in the dark slacks and power tie really spark attention and demand respect.
  5. Take frequent breaks - There's nothing like going having your mind go blank in the middle of a conversation because you'll never know who you're talking to. You could be talking to the owner of the PV solar panel company you want to purchase from and since a lot of the business is based on quoting prices, you may make a better deal if your brain gets a chance to relax for a minute or two.
  6. Practice body language - It may be common sense, but I shook many a hand that felt like I was shaking a dead fish. There was a lot of poor posture. Do you really want to do business with someone that is unsure of themselves? Can you trust them with shipping millions of dollars of merchandise over land and sea? Can you risk it?
  7. Trim nose hairs - need I say more? A lot in business has to do with communication and poor facial grooming signals "I cannot take care of my personal grooming, so I may not be able to take care of your money and our contract." Personal grooming is important, indeed.

Regardless, Intersolar North America was an amazing experience and a great trade show. The solar energy industry is vibrant and everyone feels like they are saving the world, which they are. If you think there is something missing in this list, let's hear it in the comments below.

Photo Credit: Intersolar