The best trade shows for small business | SMB forum by

8 MINS Team

Attending a trade show is a great place to grow your business by making new connections with prospective customers and vendors. Of course you can also get insights on the latest trends in your industry.

80% of marketers believe live events are critical to their success, and 84% of trade show attendees say they have a more positive opinion of the business, brand, product or service after interacting with a business at a live event. No wonder that nearly two-thirds (63%) of marketers plan on investing more in live events in the future, in terms of both budget and number of events. But what are the best trade shows for small businesses to attend? The answer to that may depend on what type of small business you have.

Read on to get tips for choosing the right trade show for your business, plus get a rundown on some of the best trade shows coming up this year for everyone from attorneys to roofers.

Choosing a trade show to grow your business

No matter how much time we spend online doing business, there’s no substitute for face-to-face interaction with vendors, prospects and customers. However the effectiveness of any trade show depends on selecting the right one for your business and your marketing goals.

When choosing the best trade shows for small business, here are 5 things to consider.

  • Longevity: How long has the trade show been around? Whether you are exhibiting at the trade show or just attending, you’ll most likely get more bang for your buck by exhibiting at a trade show that has a strong reputation and experience behind it.
  • Attendees: How many attendees are expected at the show, and are they your target customers? It doesn’t matter how big a trade show is if the people attending aren’t relevant to your business.
  • Exhibitors: If you are attending a trade show, you’ll want to make sure the exhibitors are relevant to your business.
  • Education: Trade shows are much more than just booths on a showroom floor. What types of speakers, workshops, or discussions are featured at the trade show? Good trade shows will help you continue your education in your field and learn about new trends in your industry. They will also attract the most qualified professionals to deliver these presentations at the event.
  • Networking opportunities: What types of opportunities do the trade show organizers present to mix and mingle with other attendees and exhibitors? Are exhibitors hosting pre or post-show events that might present valuable networking opportunities?

You can get a lot of this information from the trade show organizers’ website or from contacting them directly. You can also ask others in your industry which trade shows they recommend. Talking to people who have actually attended a trade show in the past is one of the best ways to get insights into whether it’s really worth your time.

How do I find trade shows?

If you’re new to industry events and conferences, a good place to start is your industry’s trade association show/expo/conference. Industry trade associations can also typically refer you to other good trade shows to attend.

You can also search for tradeshows online, or visit directories such as The Trade Show News Network (TSNN) and ExpoDatabase to search for tradeshows in your industry.

To save you some time, we’ve compiled this list of some of the best trade shows for small business owners to attend this year. Mark your calendars and reserve your seat!

Grow your business with these trade shows

The best trade shows for your business will depend on your specific industry. However, there is one trade show that every small business owner or budding entrepreneur should attend: Small Business Expo. It’s the biggest of the small business trade shows. This SMB-to-SMB event is one full day of activity, hosted in 15 major cities across the U.S. and attracts more than 75,000 attendees. The show focuses on learning, networking, building business skills and meeting vendors.

Did I mention it’s free to attend? For a list of Small Business Expo events happening across the US starting in February 2019, click here!

Directory list of trade shows by industry

Below is a list of trade shows for:

  • printers
  • roofers
  • HVAC companies
  • automotive repair 
  • doctor
  • scontractors
  • law firms
  • pool/spa companies

Scroll below to see which ones your small business should attend.

Trade shows for printers

Print 19 (formerly Graph Expo)

Where: Chicago, Illinois
When: October 3-5, 2019

Print 19 is the place to explore cutting-edge technologies in the printing industry. Meet with vendors of print and graphic communications technologies and take part in more than 50 education sessions to increase your ROI, including hands-on labs and educational seminars.


Where: Las Vegas, Nevada
When: See website for dates to be announced

The Specialty Graphic Imaging Association’s SGIA Expo brings together professionals in the industrial, graphic, garment, textile, electronics, packaging and commercial printing communities looking to grow their businesses by using the latest printing technologies. More than 500 exhibitors and 25,000 attendees will benefit from networking opportunities, educational events and more.

Trade shows for roofers

International Roofing Expo

Where: Nashville, Tennessee
When: February 11-13, 2019

The IRE Conference is the premiere roofing industry event, offering education on the latest trends, emerging technologies, and research developments for those in the roofing, coatings and building industries with supplier exhibitions.

MRCA Conference, Overland Park

Where: Overland Park, Kansas
When: November 20-22, 2019

The Midwest Roofing Contractors Association conference features exhibits, educational sessions, networking opportunities and more for project managers, contractors, manufacturers and others in the roofing industry.

Trade shows for HVAC companies

HARDI Annual Conference

Where: New Orleans, Louisiana
When: December 7 – 10, 2019

The 2018 Heating, Air-conditioning and Refrigeration Distributors International Association (HARDI) conference brings together distributors, manufacturers and other HVAC vendors to grow their professional networks and expand their industry knowledge from top experts providing relevant and unique perspectives.

IHACI Trade Show

Where: Pasadena, CA
When: See website for dates to be announced

The Institute of Heating and Air Conditioning Industries (IHACI) trade show is the largest HVAC/R/SM performance contracting trade show in the Western U.S., targeting contractors, manufacturer, distributors, utilities, and related businesses in the HVAC, refrigeration, and sheet metal industries.

Trade shows for automotive repair


Where: Las Vegas, Nevada
When: November 5-7, 2019

The Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo is an international trade show for the automotive industry, with thousands of attendees from around the world, educational seminars, speakers and exhibits of automotive replacement parts; service, garage and repair equipment; automotive accessories; performance parts and more.


Where: Las Vegas, Nevada
When: November 5-8, 2019

The massive Specialty Equipment Market Association Exhibition features over 3,000 new products from over 2,400 exhibiting companies. Attendees from the automotive services and service station industries network and learn about the latest business and automotive products and equipment to help them grow their businesses.

Trade shows for doctors

The APMA Annual Scientific Meeting (The National)

Where: Salt Lake City, Utah
When: July 11-14, 2019

The National is the must-attend meeting for every podiatrist. Attendees can participate in hands-on training workshops, attend symposia and specialty educational tracks, and see a range of new products and services for podiatrists in the exhibition hall.

Breast Surgery & Body Contouring Symposium

Where: Austin, TX
When: See website for dates to be announced

Attendees come from around the globe to build their aesthetic and reconstructive plastic surgery skills at the annual Breast Surgery & Body Contouring Symposium. World-renowned faculty present leading-edge techniques and procedures; small-group instructional courses complement the general sessions.

A4M 26th Annual World Congress

Where: Las Vegas, Nevada
When: December 13-15, 2019

The American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine’s annual Winter World Congress will feature thousands of exhibitors and clinicians from across the globe. This event focuses on emerging innovations and future scientific advances, with dozens of speakers, learning tracks, sponsored workshops, and product presentations designed to maximize learning for attendees.

Trade shows for contractors


Where: National Harbor, Maryland
When: October 9-11, 2019

This national trade show and educational conference for commercial builders brings thousands of industry leaders together to gain real-world knowledge for success. Networking, education, and exhibitions are all part of CONSTRUCT.

CMAA National Conference and Trade show

Where: Las Vegas, Nevada
When: See website for dates to be announced

The Construction Management Association of America national conference offers education and networking opportunities for professionals from all aspects of the construction industry, construction managers, owners, project managers, engineers and architects. This year’s CMAA National Conference and Trade show focuses on building the skills needed for better project management, leadership and collaboration.

Greenbuild International Conference and Expo

Where: Atlanta, Georgia
When: November 20-22, 2019

Greenbuild is the world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to green building. Sponsored by the U.S. Green Building Council, this show brings together industry leaders, experts and frontline professionals dedicated to sustainable building, and includes exhibits and breakout sessions on new green technology, design and materials.

Groundbreak 2019

Where: Phoenix, Arizona
When: October 8-10, 2019

Over 3,000 attendees ranging from design, accounting, and project management to executive and field teams are expected at Groundbreak. The conference features experts from around the world, celebrity keynotes, and more than 80 educational events.

Trade shows for law firms

AAJ 2019

Where: Denver, Colorado
When: See website for dates to be announced

The American Association for Justice (AAJ) Annual Convention attracts attorneys with over 200 events including continuing legal education programs. Trial lawyers and experts discuss the latest trends in trial advocacy.

NACDL Annual Meeting & Seminar

Where: Miami, Florida
When: See website for dates to be announced

Focusing on “murder, mayhem, and malice,” this year’s National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ conference will discuss how to successfully litigate these most complex of trial cases. Faculty from around the world will share their advice for handling everything from violent crimes to terrorism cases.

NOSSCR 40th Anniversary Event

Where: New Orleans, Louisiana
When: September 11-14, 2019

The National Association of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives fall conference is the premier conference for social security disability attorneys and representatives from around the country. Approximately 600 attendees will learn about trends and best practices in this growing field.

Trade shows for pool/spa companies

International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo

Where: New Orleans, Louisiana
When: November 5-7, 2019

The Pool | Spa | Patio Expo is North America’s largest industry event covering all segments of pool, spa, and outdoor living. Attendees will be able to network, find new products, build business relationships, and take advantage of educational events and hands-on demonstrations.

Use your trade show leads to grow your business

So there you have it, there are lots of trade shows to attend this year, no matter what the nature of your small business is. If you’re going to learn, make sure you bring something to take notes and keep your Twitter account handy so your business can share the leading insights coming out of the event. If you’re going to network, remember to bring your business cards! But if you’re attending an event to sell, you should make a plan around capturing and nurturing leads. Here are some tips for managing leads, nurturing them and emailing them.

Image Credits

Feature Image: Unsplash/Teemu Paananen

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