Dos and Don’ts for GSX

This time last year, I wrote about how GSX 2021 was my first trade show ever. I’ve been to a few more since then, and while I won’t pretend that a year and a half has turned me into a grizzled industry veteran, I will say that my handful of experiences has given me a much better idea of what to expect.

As GSX 2022 kicks into gear, here are a handful of tips to make the most of your trade show experience:

  • Make an itinerary: It’s tough to come up with a balance between structured and unstructured time. Last year, as a newbie, I came into the show with maybe 2 or 3 hard, pre-scheduled appointments on my schedule. That left me with a lot of time to do laps around the show floor, weaving in and out of aisles, picking relevant-looking booths at random. I got a feel for the show and got my sea legs, but by the end of the day, my feet hurt and I didn’t feel like I’d accomplished much. This time around, I wouldn’t say my schedule is jam-packed, but I definitely have places to be and people to meet. And far from dreading the busyness, I’m glad I have a little more going on than a seven-hour walking tour of the expo.
  • Leave time to wander: I realize that this directly contradicts the above point. But in a gathering this large, I think it’s important to leave time to explore the unknown. Maybe a company name or their booth setup catches your attention; maybe they have a particularly enticing pile of freebies that attracts your attention. I will say that in the last year, I’ve made a handful of continuing business relationships that started with me passing by a booth and noticing a particularly cool-looking T-shirt, or USB drive, or stress ball. Leave time for new experiences, and for the things you don’t know that you don’t know.
  • Bring a water bottle and comfortable shoes: Trade shows do require a certain level of physical exertion; my step count is exponentially higher during work events than on an average day working from home. During conferences, I’ve noticed more than a handful of people decked out in business suits and tennis shoes. At the very least, a pair of shoe inserts goes a long, long way. Similarly, on my last couple trips, I’ve brought my 32-oz. water bottle along, and it’s really handy being able to refill it as I pass by a water fountain—and it’s saved me a ton of money (or at least the hassle of saving receipts & filing an expense report) on event refreshments.

Travel safe, and we’ll see you in Atlanta!

About the Author

Matt Jones is senior editor of Spaces4Learning and Campus Security and Life Safety. He can be reached at


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