Twice a year – in the fall and in the spring, the Canton Fair is held at the China Import and Export Fair Complex in the Haizhu District of Guangzhou. It has been occurring annually since its’ conception in 1957. The last session (the 119th session to date) had over 185,596 international buyers in attendance. Over 24,514 exhibitors showcased their products. There was a recorded 60,233 booths on display.
If those figures don’t paint the magnitude of the extravagant Canton Fair, nothing will.
We know how technologically advanced China is – which is why anybody who’s serious about developing their image on an international level… is losing money by not attending. Doing so lets you see, first hand, how China manages the foreign trade market, and gives a wide-eyed look into how China dominates its trade connections with the world.
Since the Canton Fair showcases the largest selection of products, from an extravagantly huge number of vendors, visitors, and companies… it is the largest trade fair in China. The on-going 120th Canton Fair is being held in 3-phases, from 15th October to 4th November 2016 for different product lines. Suppliers from the leading industries of electronics, home decor, textiles, food, and hardware (and more) make their way to China for this incredible, amazing event.
It is essential for any importer who is serious about buying products (or looking for product ideas) to attend. With all those suppliers in their respective trades, it is impossible to attend the fair and not get bitten by “the bug” of flurries, blurs, and excitement.
We have to talk about some things first: where are you going to stay? How will you make the most of this experience? What will you do to make sure your “vacation” goes off without a hitch?
Read on to find out.
1. Where Will You Sleep?
First things first, you need a Visa. It’s advisable to get one from Hong Kong. Then, it’s simply a matter of flying into Hong Kong Island airport. Luckily, there is a “Visa agency” parked smack-dab in the center of arrivals – so you have no qualms about where to go in this new, foreign country.
Booking a room in a luxurious, comfy hotel near the Fair is ideal.
The next step is to apply to the nearest Chinese embassy (in your country) to make sure you have a passport. You can even pre-register on the Canton Fair website for information on acquiring an “overseas buyer’s badge”. The directions from there, on the site, are pretty straight forward.
Moving on! Here is a checklist you should double-check of things you should have
- Your passport + additional copies
- 3 passport photos (you can never be too careful)
- 200 RMB (Renminbi) for door entry
In all likelihood, you’ll need to stay in Hong Kong overnight. Some fun hotels you can check into are the Shangri -La, or the China Hotel, among a lot of other five-star choices.
This is a fantastic pre-game warm-up to meet other like-minded individuals, entrepreneurs, and business people. Throw back a couple drinks, eat some delicious food, and have a good time.
2. Have A Good Mindset
“People say you need a lot of passion for what you do, and it’s so true. Because any rational person would give up.” – Steve Jobs
In business and life, your mindset (more often than not) determines your reality. A lot of successful entrepreneurs (who have made millions of dollars) equate a large part of their wealth to… you guessed it… their mindset.
Now is the time to expand your horizons about what human beings are capable of – and “upgrade” your thoughts to be as inclusive and welcoming as possible.
3. Business or Pleasure? Both!
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”
All business and no pleasure robs you of the experience of being in a new country for the first time. Widening your breadth of humanity makes you a better marketer – as this “boot camp experience in networking” gives you the “cheat codes” towards connecting better with people. (i.e, your customers.)
4. Pack Light
Remember the #1 rule of going somewhere new: packing light keeps you on your flight!
It’s easy to pick up souvenirs – especially since every single booth will try to give you something. This is classic marketing: give something away for free to ensure repeat business. The business people you meet at the Canton Fair will, to put it bluntly, leave you feeling “stuffed.”
Be sure to bring a backpack, separate, for these souvenirs, brochures, and interesting literature.
5. Navigating The Fair
Great! You’ve made it! Now, what?
Shortly after checking into your hotel room is the perfect time for planning the fair. Find out the latest exhibition site plans, so you know where all the products that you want.. No, need… are, so you won’t be scrambling around like a chicken with its head cut off.
Keep this in mind: even with the many golf car shuttles readily available, freely maneuvering the site is tricky work. Doable, but tricky.
It’s best to network and “get out there” by stopping at booths (the ones you want) and sparking up a conversation. Lack some serious conversational skills? Amazon and YouTube are great resources for learning how to speak eloquently in conversation.
It will also help you to talk with some qualified, exceptional salespeople – as the right salesman knows how to strike up any conversation (with anyone!) and “tune in” to the essence of whoever they’re talking to.
Part of working the scene and getting a feel for the companies surrounding you involves a bit of structure. Some things you can do to maximize your chances of blasting every “meeting” out of the park include…
- Eating a healthy breakfast, nourishing breakfast. A glass of milk, a 4-egg omelet, some toast with lettuce and tomatoes, maybe some bacon… and you’re all set! (Isn’t that just a BLT? Yep! Good ol’ fashioned healthy BLT.) Sure, some foods may taste better when it’s fast food… but it sends you to the grave quicker.
- Drink water. Lots of it. (You know you need more water in your system anyway.)
- Don’t collect each and every catalog/brochure/flyer you see. Chances are most of these will be discarded in the recycling bin anyway.
- We live in the digital age! Take photos, record vlogs, post Twitter updates (and hashtag important businesses after meeting them – doing this doubles the chances of a business remembering you later on down the line).
6. Don’t Miss Electronic And Home Appliances Zone
You may think of IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin, Germany) and CES (Consumer Electronics Show, Las Vegas, USA) when speaking about electronics show, but do you know that Canton Fair is actually bigger than these famous international exhibitions?
The Canton Fair attracts about 2500 “electronic & home appliance” exhibitors each year, which is 1.5 times of IFA with a large number of manufacturers & top brands from all over the world. You will be able to see popular global technology trends and may find good suppliers with better quality & prices.
7. Talk With Manufacturers
This is a trade show – there are going to be manufacturers who are more than willing to talk about their line of products. (It’s in our selfish blood – we love talking about ourselves.)
Plus, maybe you can even squeeze out a sweet discount – something the poor saps who didn’t come… won’t get! (Be sure to bring a local translator just in case.)
This is an experience. Being willing to go behind the scenes, do things you haven’t done before, and engage with new people, using their new products… is a gift not many savvy business people take advantage of.
Use this time to make the most of your product line, and ultimately your bottom line.