Whether you’re here for a brush up on log home building fundamentals or to scout out the latest in touchscreen technology, the International Builders’ Show has what you’re looking for—and lots of it. The bad news is that you’ll never be able to see it all on your own. So do the best you can, and let Builder Online help with the rest as we cover sessions from around the conference center and comb the show floor looking for the latest and greatest.

To get you started, here are 10 tips to help you plan your schedule and make the most of the building industry’s biggest event of the year.

1)Find out what women want. If someone could tell you how to access 90 percent of home buyers, I’m guessing you would listen. So one word: women. Studies show that nine times out of 10, a woman is behind a home buying decision. Find out what she’s looking for, both in her online search and when she comes in for a tour at "Sisterhood of the Traveling Laptop: What Women Want Online and Onsite," presented by Carol Flammer and others (Thursday, 3:30 to 5 p.m. in West 311). You’re not going to want to miss it.

2)Start thinking green. Whatever shade you’re in right now, there’s a session for you. Whether you’re looking for green basics ("Green Building Fundamentals"), green on a budget ("Selecting the Most Cost-Effective Green Practices for Affordable Green-Certified Homes"), or all-out green ("A Builder’s Guide to Constructing a Net-Zero Energy Home"), there are no excuses with such a full menu of offerings. Whatever you do, don’t miss "Effective Green Building and Design" on Thursday at 8 a.m. in West 304 G-H. With architect and building scientist Peter Pfeiffer covering integrated design and execution of green building, this is bound to be a must-see.

3)Bookmark our IBS Web page. Builder's editors will be Tweeting live from the show floor, as well as garnering tweets from around the conference center. If you would like to contribute, tag your tweets with #ibs2011 to be sure they get pulled into our live feed. If you’re catching the action from home, don’t miss this play by play of product finds and show highlights.

4) Make products a priority. This is the home building industry’s biggest chance of the year to find products that will catch shoppers’ attention and wow them with ingenuity and value. With more than 1,000 exhibitors on display, the variety can’t be beat. If you only have time for a quick tour, don’t miss Senior Product Editor Nigel Maynard’s must-see list. You’ll also want to check out this list, compiled by our colleagues at EcoHome magazine, highlighting products that will take your homes to a deeper shade of green.

5)Learn how to run a better business. With all the institutional knowledge walking around at IBS, the opportunities for picking up best practices to slim down operation costs while boosting profits are almost endless. Here are a few you won’t want to miss:

  • Lean Building: Unprecedented Results from 50 North American Builders (Wednesday, 8-9:30 a.m. in West 312 A-B)
  • Top 50 Best Practices: Countdown for 2011 (Wednesday, 1:30-3 p.m. in West 312 A-B)
  • Shorter Cycle Times Equal Increased Capacity and Profits (Thursday, 8-9:30 a.m. in West 311 G-H)—which will be lead by industry guru Chuck Shinn.

 6)Tour Builder’s 2011 Concept Home. Partnering with home style expert Martha Stewart and KB Home, this year’s concept home is a harbinger of better production homes to come. Stylish, affordable, and boasting net-zero energy performance, this home is full of practical takeaway ideas that will be leading the industry in the next generation of building.

7)Expand into the virtual market. As buyers and their home searches get increasingly tech savvy, your website and online marketing strategies need to keep pace. Fortunately, there are plenty of offerings to help you do just that.

  • Making the Cut: How to Survive the Internet Elimination Game (Wednesday, 8-9:30 a.m. in West 311 E-F)

  • NSMC Meet the Experts: Keywords and SEO Strategies (Thursday, 2-3:15 p.m. in West 305 B)

  • Friend, Fan, Follow or Fail: Discover the Basics of Social Networking (Friday, 10-11:30 a.m. in West 304 A-B)

8)Revamp your kitchens. The kitchen is a sales powerhouse—or at least it can be. With changing priorities in home buying and design, make sure you kitchens are what buyers are looking for in this critical space. "Reinventing the Kitchen: New Priorities" (Thursday, 8-9:30 a.m. in West 307) will help you do exactly that. A panel of architecture and design experts will cover concepts, products, and materials that breath life and value into the kitchen, while a survey of lifestyles and trends affecting homeowners’ wants and needs offers data-based insights.

9)Get a fresh take on your house plans. The AIA Plan Review Workshops—offered Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday—are an unparalleled opportunity to meet with licensed architects and interior designers for a one-on-one review of your house plans. Professionals will spend 25 minutes with you to discuss how your plans might be enhanced to maximize value and aesthetics: A free face lift of the best kind that you won’t want to miss.

10) Find out what buyers are looking for. It’s a straightforward strategy: Every year the NAHB and Better Homes and Gardens survey the design elements and features home buyers want most. It’s intel that can’t be beat: You’ll know exactly what prospects are looking for and where features will have the most impact. You will also get the inside scoop on trends by region, age group, and first-time buyer vs. move-ups.

Claire Easley is senior editor, online, for Builder.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Orlando, FL, Greenville, SC.