By Bob Callahan, Group Vice President

Bob Callahan, Group Vice PresidentThis year’s 36th edition of the WorkBoat show is right around the corner — Tuesday, Dec. 1, through Thursday, Dec. 3, at the Morial Convention Center in New Orleans.

With more than 1,100 companies set to display products and services, a high quality education program, entertainment and countless networking opportunities during and after the show, you’ll find everything you need for your business under one roof. In a time when not every commercial marine sector is experiencing growth, we realize how important it is for to you get the most out of your visit to the show. Read on for a pre-show to post-show checklist to follow to ensure you get the most out of the 2015 International WorkBoat Show.

Plan ahead - This sounds basic. Often, attendees either drive in or get off the plane and head directly to the convention center, pick up their badge and walk out on the floor, without a plan. At the end of the day these attendees become panicked because there are so many companies and thousands of products on the show floor to see. Without an adequate plan, they find they only covered an aisle or two.

To help plan your visit, we have a variety of tools on our show website that you can use to get the most productivity out of the show.

New Products – According to our recent attendee survey, the primary purpose for attending the International WorkBoat Show is to find new products. Our website and new product newsletter sort out and highlight companies offering new products.

Exhibitor List – Our comprehensive exhibitor list provides you a detailed listing of all companies. The exhibitor list also allows you to sort out companies by product, in alpha order or in booth number order.

• While in New Orleans – The International WorkBoat Show provides you opportunities to network, find out about the latest trends, see new products, set next year’s business plan and become inspired by all the offerings available for you to bring back to your business. Since we’ve already talked about the best way to navigate the show floor, here are a few other things to take advantage of while in New Orleans.

Networking – Whether during show hours or in the evening, networking provides you with the opportunity to learn what your competitors are doing, what your suppliers are offering, what old friends and colleagues are up to, and what is selling and what is not. If you network properly, the International WorkBoat Show will provide you with a plethora of industry knowledge and intelligence that you can use to make your business grow.

Professional Series Annual Conference – This year’s education program is designed to help you tackle the challenges you face in your daily operations. Hear from high quality speakers, industry experts and opinion leaders covering a wide range of topics in addition to marine industry specific subjects.

• Post Show – Leaving the show, it is important to come back to the office with a plan on how to implement the information gathered at this year's show. I recommend writing a post-show report that you can share with your team members.

Navigating the International WorkBoat Show properly can save you a year’s worth of valuable time meeting and negotiating with vendors and sourcing new products. But remember, the key to your success at the WorkBoat Show is proper preparation.

A collection of stories from guest authors.