GIE+EXPO only comes around once a year and with only a few days to take in all of the education, new products and fun, it’s important to arrive with some goals in mind.

Before the show.

Set a few priorities for yourself whether it’s a piece of equipment you want to try, a question you want answered or new technology you want to research. If you want to learn something new, make sure you check out the educational sessions and speakers, and register if necessary.

Before you arrive, download the GIE+EXPO app, sponsored by TurfMutt, so that you can find the companies and products you want to see most. You can search by company or by product category if you want to see all of your options.

Photo courtesy of GIE+EXPO

You can also use the app to look for demos, workshops and sessions, and build a planner for yourself to reference each day.

The 20+ Outdoor Demonstration Area is just a few steps from the indoor exhibits so be sure to include that in your plans as well. Check the weather before you head out to make sure you can try out new equipment under the best conditions.

At the show.

While you’re checking out all the show has to offer, be sure to take some time to meet new people, says Sam Stearns, owner of Mr. Mower Man in Indiana. He recommends coming to the show with one or two things you want to talk to someone about or learn.

“Once you start talking to somebody about those ideas, that will probably lead to other things you haven’t thought about,” he says. “It will give you other things to think about and you’ll probably get some more information.”

When you arrive, check out the New Products Showcase and make a list of must-see items. “I’ve been coming to the show for five or six years,” says Donna Hibbs, director of Grounds, Masonic Homes of Kentucky. “It’s a great place to compare pricing all in one spot.”

With all there is to see and do, make sure to pace yourself so that you can get the most out of each day you spend at the show.

“My own personal practice is to be there when it opens up and stay until it’s closed. Make them kick you out,” Stearns says. “I never want to leave early. There’s just too much to take in and learn. It’s only once a year so make the most of it.”

With all of the new information and tips you’ll be hearing, it’s a good idea to bring something to take notes on. And don’t forget to bring business cards so that you can stay in touch with your new friends and colleagues.

After the show.

Keep the momentum going after you head back to your business. Be sure to go over your notes and take action on the new ideas and techniques you’ve learned. That can mean reaching out to new contacts you met, sharing tips with your team or prioritizing what you want to buy first.

And don’t just let those business cards you collected sit in a drawer. Stay connected to the new (or old) friends you’ve made. Make plans to keep sharing ideas or maybe even consider making a peer group.

Lastly, mark your calendar for GIE+EXPO 2018, which will take place Oct. 17-19.

To register for the show, click here.