If you are a participating in the Religious Conference Management Association's hosted-buyer scholarship program at the annual conference and expo, January 24–27 in Kansas City, Mo., here are 10 tips to make the most of your experience.

1. Be sure you have a clear understanding of what expectations are during your visit with exhibitors in order to receive a travel reimbursement.

2. Use the exhibitor guide to plan your time at the show. Research potential suppliers, find out where they are located, and plan your days. Schedule meetings with suppliers or key people. This will help ensure that you achieve your goals at the show.

3. Study the floor plan. You want to spend more time walking aisles that have exhibitors relevant to your organization rather than walking the whole exhibition area randomly.

4. Make the most of the networking opportunities. You don’t need to limit yourself to show hours. Think creatively and schedule working breakfast meetings or networking dinners to meet and talk to key people.

5. Network with other religious conference organizers. Chances are they will be able and willing to provide you with valuable leads or feedback. For example, they might tell you which suppliers they have worked with and what their experience was.

6. Pack comfortable walking shoes. You’re going to spend hours on your feet.

7. Keep your goals in mind. It is easy to get swept up by a good sales pitch or get sidetracked by a fun giveaway. Carry a list of your objectives to help keep you on track.

8. Have a clear idea of your meeting’s value and budget. Don’t waste your or someone else’s time by not knowing the critical details of your meeting’s RFP.

9. Remember that there are several reasons for attending the show, and scouting for deals is only one of them. You’re also looking to keep abreast of industry trends and to make contact with suppliers and other key industry players, with a view to setting up longer-term relationships.

10. What you do after the show is almost as important as the planning you put into the show. Be sure to update your database and capture the contact details and other relevant information of the people you met and follow up on leads and contacts.

Source: Adapted from trade show tips provided by the consulting firm The Small Business Co., tbc.com.