The Lifehacker’s Guide to Attending Trade Shows, Conventions, and Expos

It wasn’t easy, but I’m in the last stretch of my year of travelling the trade show circuit on the west coast.

From outdoor adventures to gadgets, expensive tech, drugs, food, and music, I’ve seen the back end of a lot of professional industries. I also learned a few tips about the shows themselves, along with the PR industry.

Brian Penny cannabis cup media credentials

1. Apply Early

To get into major trade shows like E3, Comic-Con,  Infocomm, Marijuana Business, Defcon, CES, and Outdoor Retailer, you need to apply early. Check out their websites today to see when tickets are available.

2. Get Credentials

For any trade show, you can gain free attendance as a media analyst. To do this, you’ll need an active online presence and knowledge of the industry. Without this, you may still be able to gain attendance, but you will have to pay.

3. Show Up Early

Familiarize yourself with the lay of the land early. Coming a few hours prior will give you the opportunity to network your way in if you don’t already have a badge. If you do, you’ll get a free shot with at least one booth before the crowds barge in.

Nintendo smash bros wiiU E3 LA

4. Find Media, Vendor, and Worker Areas

These are the break areas that will have the food, Wi-Fi, charging stations, etc. Try to walk in until you’re stopped, regardless of what credentials you have. You’d be surprised where this can get you in life.

5. Move Around

Don’t spend more than thirty minutes at any given booth. Everyone is there to make sales. Introduce yourself, hand out a business card, and ask for a review unit. Then move on.Brian Penny Press Credentials Infocomm E3 PAX Outdoor Retailers CES Cannabis Cup

6. Bring Business Cards

Business cards are the best investment I ever made. I’ve traded them for clothes, food, hotel stays, VIP entry, and more. Everyone will ask you for a card, and people hate hearing excuses. Always have business cards.

Brian Penny Versability SignatureBrian Penny is a former business analyst and operations manager at Bank of America turned whistleblower, writer, and troll. Penny has been featured on Huffington Post, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and more.



Dr. Brian Penny is a former Business Analyst and Operations Manager at Bank of America turned whistleblower, troll, and freelance writer. You can find his work in Cracked, High Times, HuffPost, Lifewire, Forbes, Fast Company, and dozens of other places, although much of it is no longer under his name. Dr. Penny loves annoying fake media.

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