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Today the silver team is at SpecialtyFood.com’s Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City. It’s the largest specialty food and beverage event in America and features more 180,000 products representing eighty different countries. For silver, the Fancy Food Show is a great place to network, potential clients, and assess trends in package design and the gourmet food industry. For this Tuesday, we took a different perspective and decided share some tips for brands looking to work their first trade show.

Explore The Competition – The trade show floor is one of the best places see where you stand in a competitive setting. Use this as a resource. Rather than focusing on areas of high contention, look for a gap that needs to be filled. Whether it’s a price point, quality level, or the ability to customize, there are often customer needs that aren’t yet being satisfied.

Get Inspired – Trade shows are a great place to find inspiration. Look for innovative products in your category and see if you could improve your own offerings. Remember, inspiration and duplication are two very different things. Use what you see as a starting point for brainstorming rather than an end result you want to copy.

Make Some Friends – If nothing else, make sure to meet new people. Trade shows are designed to create exposure, that’s the point! Get out there and make connections. Customers, suppliers, industry experts, critics, media, and even competitors can all be valuable resources in your contact book. Shake hands, trade business cards, and hopefully share some new bonds. You’ll build your brand and have fun doing it. If you’re a little overwhelmed by the magnitude of these shows, check out these networking tips.