Instead of going into the office, like every other day, yesterday I was awarded the opportunity to go to a Reverse Trade Show, as part of my training for future trade shows. It was a very unique experience for me, and despite the fact that I had to be at work at 5:30 that morning, it is definitely something I would do again.
It was a different experience to be able to mingle in such a way with potential clients. In past jobs that I have held, making a connection with a client was a short-term service. It was nice to be able to present myself to a person I may hear from in the future. The trade show was more about building a real connection with a potential buyer. One of the biggest connections we made was with our real competition in the state-run department-the Jail. I hadn’t realized how many markets we weren’t able to get a firm break into until Adrienne (our Human Resources manager), John (one of our engineers) and I had spoken to the schools, the different counties and other state-run organizations. For State-run schools and offices, they are required to get their furniture from the Virginia Correctional facilities. Making a connection with them puts us in the way of jobs where facilities may need more custom work than those facilities can provide.
While we were there, we learned of other similar opportunities to make some connections with potential customers and suppliers. The entire experience made me feel even more excited about the Healthcare Design trade show I will be exhibiting at in November. After listening to Adrienne present an overview of what our company does and how we might be useful to the exhibitors, she threw John and me into it feet first. “It’s your turn,” she said. I was nervous at first, but after a couple of booths, I had really gotten into the swing of things, and so had John. I learned how to interact with potential clients, how to network, and most importantly, how to pretend like my heels weren’t absolutely killing me. A tip for anyone who may be wearing high heels to any kind of walking and standing event-bring a pair of flats for your downtime, like lunch and presentations. At least some insoles. Maybe something to read during the long lunch between the exhibit hall and the final presentation. (Lunch is really long. Do some networking if you have nothing else to occupy your time. It can only help.)
In the end, the tradeshow was nothing but fun for me. I can’t wait to go to another one, if only for the free pens and candy. (Kidding! Sorta…)