Another repost from BLAUGI  in 2006… still good to review.
Here are some tips for getting the most out of the Exhibit Floor at Autodesk University (or any other event where there are vendors booths).
Look at the exhibitors list – it is posted on the AU site here (now a dead link). It has a complete list of vendors that will be in the exhibit hall. Print it out and mark the ones you want to visit in the first round. Now mark another set for the second round. Now mark up a third round. Prioritize then in that order. When you go to the hall, if you make it through all of the first round – move the second – then the third. You should make several passes through the hall and then make vendor visits. We will discuss both.
Get a show floor map – mark the vendors that you want to see. Highlight the names and locations. Make sure that you visit them first.
First Pass – Walk – Don’t Talk. Scope out the whole venue. Make a quick walk through of the whole show floor. Do not talk to any vendors yet. The purpose of this trip is to get the lay of the land, find out where the vendors are that you want to visit and mark up the floor show map to remind you where they are located.
Second Pass – Walk and Grab. This is not to talk to vendors yet. This is to get the freebies out of your system. Take as many free things as you want. For you and for the kids back home. Pick up pens, swag, flotsam, jetsam, whatever. Take a big bag. Fill it to the brim. Get it done early cause the stuff may not be around later. Dedicate yourself to getting it all and getting done. Sign up for all the raffles, drawings, contest and whatever is out there. Done? good… now get down to business.
Walking the Hall – Round One Visits – Walk and Talk. Okay, did you get all the free stuff you could possibly want? Whew, now that that is out of our system, get down to business. All subsequent wondering of the hall is for the purpose of getting information to help you get your job done better. Get out the map and visit your first level vendors. Talk to them about your concerns, issues and problems. Ask about software tools, upgrades, patches, etc. Take the time to see new releases. Talk to vendors and get names, contact info and exchange business cards. Make sure you ask to see anyone that you may know by name, but have not seen face to face.
Walking the Hall – Round Two Visits – Walk and Talk more – go to your round two vendors. Do the same as you did for the round one vendors.
Walking the Hall – Round Three Visits – Walk and Talk again – go to your round three vendors. Do the same as you did for the round one vendors.
Wondering the Hall – Random Contacts – Now go to anything that looks interesting. Move outside you sweet spot. Talk to vendors of products that you do not use and haven’t even thought about. Talk to vendors that you have decided not ti buy from in the past. Their products may be quite different now. Now would also be the time to go back to the vendors that you really want to talk to again.
Debrief – back in your room. Go through everything you picked up. Discard the stuff that you did not really want but were to polite to refuse. Don’t pack it for the return flight or drive. Put it in the trash.