How to Prepare for the Upcoming SEMA and AAPEX Trade Shows


The SEMA and AAPEX trade shows are coming up fast! Are you prepared? Or are you someone who waits until the show starts to start trying to find sponsors for next year?

Trade shows are one the best ways to make the connections you need for racing sponsorships. At trade shows, you have the opportunity to meet salespeople, marketing managers, creatives, and executives who are budget decision-makers.

It’s so important to network online before you get to the trade show! Reaching out in person takes the relationship to the next level because you get to show your personality and energy. There’s something special about feeling like you “click” with someone, whether it’s over racing or something completely different like parenthood.

On top of the positive experience, this someone can be the one to help out your team—or they can connect you with the right person. 

I get it; it’s not always easy. And even if I’m used to it by now, I doubted myself whenever I talked to others and promoted myself. I still start to sweat and worry they might not like me, but I remind myself that I’m just talking to another human and to not get intimidated. 

As racers, we can focus too much on racing and not on networking. While racing is your purpose and passion, networking is how you’re going to go from a nobody to a somebody in no time. If you think about it, we build/nurture connections daily: with our team, with fans we meet at the track, with our followers behind the screen, even with our competitors.

Networking the right way can get you your next BIG sponsorship! Here’s how:

Do Your Homework Before the Trade Show

First, you need to reach out to the companies that you want to meet with. I suggest LinkedIn or sending them an email via their website. Share something insightful that you found from their business page or personal profiles to connect with them on a personal level.

Start Building the Relationship

Then, ask to meet with them for 30 minutes for a phone call or Zoom. Get to know the company better and learn how you can help with their goals for the next year or what they are currently struggling with.

The point here is to have an actual conversation with them before you meet in person. That way, they are more likely to meet with you at the conference.

Get On Their Calendar

While you’re talking with them, tell them you will be attending the upcoming trade show or event and ask if they will be available to meet with you for drinks one night or if they have an opening in their schedule during the day. Let them know you’re interested in speaking about how your race team could help them meet the goals you discussed. 

Make the Sale

This meeting is when you can present your deck and pitch your idea of how you’d like to work together in the next year. You need to stand out, don’t get lost in the crowd of everyone else they meet with (this includes the hundreds of brochures and sponsorship decks they’ll receive from other racers). Better yet, you can have this meeting before the show starts to pitch your idea to their boss or CEO to get approval for sponsorships.

Not sure how to make a racing deck that converts? Swipe my template here.

Events, races, trade shows and conferences are great opportunities to show your personality and meet great people that can help you achieve your racing dream! 

How do you handle trade shows?

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