We've said it before and we'll say it again - if your brand works within any retail component, NRF is for you. 

However, we know all too well that trade shows can be challenging to navigate. Do I live at the booth, can I network, will I have time to square up the competition? With NRF's Big Show right around the corner, we're here to be your north star in trade show navigation. 

1. Pre-Show: Prepare, prepare, prepare! For significant shows like NRF and CES, preparation will likely take your brand months. Planning the booth, securing your vendor meetings and tapping into the right media in attendance to bolster your presence are all important parts of the planning process. Also, don't forget to secure your booth's Wi-Fi - we promise it's worth it. 

2. At-Show: Now that we're here, what are we doing? If you weren't selected to moderate or speak on a panel, or perhaps your brand is still in it's infancy, your impact will be entirely dependent on how you show up at the show. While you may not be on the main stage, do not discredit the value in networking. By simply bringing a potential customer a coffee or hosting a happy hour with like-minded CMOs, impactful results can stem from a variety of activities. Let your comms agency facilitate meetings in the booth - go out there and be seen! 

Another great way to show up at trade shows is to attend the keynote and speaking sessions. And this year's schedule at NRF is one of the most well-rounded and exciting schedule we've seen. Panels about using AI to power retail's growth, the future of retailing and how tech is changing the game, and how to create loyal customers are owning the main stage this year. Attend these sessions (and more), get your learning on and network with brands that want and need the same things as your brand. 

3. Post-Show: While most think this is a time to reflect, don't fall into the post-show slump. This time is just as critical as your time on the floor. Cultivate and nurture the relationships you built at NRF. For those deals that weren't made on the golf course (show floor), this is the time to make it happen. Utilize your learnings from the show to create smart content to share on your blog and social channels. Timing is critical - don't let your hard-earned connections go to waste. 

Trade shows are one of our most favorite activities of the year and it's the start of busy season. Look for us - we've got boots on the ground at CES, NRF, HIMSS and MWC this quarter.