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Have you ever been to a large trade show event like Comic Con or a home and garden show and wondered just how much work goes into bringing together all those people? I’ve been in the exhibitions and events business for over 10 years now, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my years of experience, it’s that running a trade show is hard work. It takes a highly-skilled professional to pull off a large-scale event encompassing multiple sponsors, guests, and attendees. I’m currently in preparation for the second annual Dubai Muscle Show, which will take place 8-9 December 2017 at the Dubai World Trade Centre and is projected to bring in 20,000 attendees, over 200 exhibitors, and over 600 inspirational athletes. Even for an event that only takes place two days out of the year, organizing a large-scale trade show event is a full-time, round-the-clock job.

If you’re thinking of getting into the trade show business yourself, you should know what you’re getting yourself into. The trade show business is exciting and rewarding, but it’s also incredibly demanding, requiring a sharp business acumen. Here are the skills you should develop to pull off a successful trade show.

Clear goal-setting

You should know exactly what you want to accomplish going into the event, well before it’s held. Your goals for the event will influence everything else that goes into it and play a huge role in the preparation. Ask yourself and your team what you are trying to accomplish with this show, whether that’s leads, customer relationships, publicity, or all of the above. If your event is not driven by a mission and lacks passion, it will be difficult to build excitement and interest.

Strong communication skills

It goes almost without saying that you need to be a strong communicator, both written and verbal. This is true for all business leaders, especially trade show organizers. You and your team must be able to communicate effectively both with each other and with all partners affiliated with the event. You must be able to market your event to your audience and generate interest.

Tech-savvy

In this day and age, just about all business ventures are driven by technology. A basic set of social media skills is absolutely essential for all business leaders and entrepreneurs; it’s what determines who sinks and swims in the business world. In order for people to learn about your event and to network with potential investors and attendees, you’ll have to advertise it online and across social media platforms, so make sure that your team is well-equipped with web and social media skills.

Stamina

Trade shows can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, but the planning that goes into it is a year-round affair. You’ll have to have the energy and enthusiasm to keep going.

Organization

When you’re juggling so many factors that go into the show, including dates, guests, venue, food, music, sponsors, etc., you’ll need to keep it all organized. You and your team should be expert multitaskers with the ability to manage multiple tasks at a time.

Flexibility and problem-solving

Finally, it pays to be flexible and have the ability to recover from any unforeseen problems. There are many things that could go wrong with a trade show. A guest speaker could cancel at the last minute. You may have to change venues. Your turnout could be smaller than expected. No matter what happens, being flexible and negotiable will allow you to maximize leads and sales.