Getting the most out of your SEMA Show experience

As SEMA members, we know how important it is to attend the SEMA Show every year – there’s no other event with a larger gathering of industry professionals, and no better place to get exposure for your products and services. But the event can be overwhelming as well – with more than 2,000 exhibitors, 130,000 attendees, and a million square feet of exhibit space, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. Even if you don’t see every booth, follow a few simple steps and you’ll get the most out of your trade show attendance.


Plan ahead

The SEMA Show is amazing, but huge. So huge, in fact, that without a plan, you risk seeing a lot but missing even more. Luckily, the SEMA Show website ( is full of great information about the exhibit halls, events, education sessions, and product demonstrations.

You don’t have to plan every minute-to-minute activity, but having a schedule, knowing the spots you have to hit, and knowing what you can skip will let you maximize the time you have. Don’t risk missing out on a new direction for your business or prime networking opportunity because you didn’t know it existed.


Stop and talk

We all want to see the cars, of course, but the true potential and magic of an event like the SEMA show is the possibility of networking. Whether you’re connecting with peers, industry leaders, or your competition, meeting the rest of your industry face-to-face gives you a distinct advantage over folks who can’t make it to the show at all. And while it sounds unintuitive, the best way to connect is to take your time at the exhibits most important to you, even if that means skipping whole portions of the show.

Don’t just rush by everything in an attempt to see it all – focus on what’s most important to you, and take the time to stop and talk with more exhibitors. You’ll get much more out of the event, and make better, lasting connections for yourself and your business.


See past the cars, work on your business

It’s tempting to spend all your time on the floor gawking at new cars, shopping for new products, and taking in the whole experience without thinking specifically about the day-to-day aspects of your business. But the SEMA Show is more than just innovations in automotive technology.

Companies that deal with all aspects of your business can be found there as well, both as exhibitors and giving free educational sessions during the show’s Education Days. Seeing the latest in social media technology and credit card processing might not be as exciting as new products and sales opportunities, but the impact on your business can be even greater.


Get the salespeople to engage you

Approaching a booth can be intimidating, because it feels a bit like you’re walking into someone else’s living room. What works well is to simply observe what’s going on and wait for a salesperson to approach you. (They will.) When someone approaches you, compliment her on the company’s products and ask questions like, “Can you show me how this works?” Be genuine in trying to get a dialogue going. Eventually, the salesperson will ask you what you do and let you know what they can do for you and your business.

Enjoy yourself

This may sound like odd advice for a week-long industry party, but believe us – by day three, you might start to wonder if you can just sneak home early and leave the craziness behind. We wouldn’t advise going home, but spending some time outside the convention center will leave you refreshed and ready when you eventually go back. And your excursion can even be business related – take your team or new business connections out to dinner in town, see a show, and relax after-hours.

Burning yourself out on the show can be worse for business than not attending at all.

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