When it comes to getting a job or doing business, social media and other forms of electronic communication are a great networking tool, however, there will never be a substitute for communicating face-to-face. In 2013, 68 million business professionals attended business-to-business exhibitions, according to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (www.CEIR.org). And it’s no wonder that this industry contributes more than $79.3 billion directly to the gross domestic product in attendee and exhibitor spending.
All working professionals stand to gain from attending exhibitions and events as buyers, exhibitors, or simply as general attendees. Whether you’re at a major trade show looking for candidates to help expand your business, or you’re a job seeker attending a local business conference, exhibitions bring the right audiences together.
“Exhibitions are a key networking tool, as well as a valuable resource for gaining insights in your field, growing professionally through education or training, or simply by observing what other companies and leaders in your field are doing,” says David DuBois, President & CEO, International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE).
Whatever your goals are, there are universal ways to maximize your presence at industry events:
Learn about event attendees and engage with them online in advance so that when you meet in person, you’re simply continuing the dialogue. Trade show organizers often provide planning resources, like mobile apps and scheduling tools that make these conversations easier.
It is helpful to create a list of who you plan to connect with beforehand and what you want to get out of your experience.
Are you starting a business? See if the event features a startup session. Most events have space on the exhibit floor dedicated to startups as well. Are you interested in expanding your professional skills set? Look into the education sessions available.
“The most important thing is confidence and preparation, so engage with your surroundings and ask questions. Everyone there is focused on gaining the most out of their experience, so be sure you do the same,” says DuBois.
New Career Path
While employment rates are on the rise, they’re still lower than prior to the recession. Despite the numbers, the exhibitions and events industry is thriving, supporting 1.8 million jobs across the country, according to the Convention Industry Council.
Whether your experience is in research, food and beverage management, event planning or sales, the exhibitions and events industry may be an ideal sector to forge a new career.
You may no longer be in school, but that’s no excuse to discontinue career training or your education. Take advantage of workshops, seminars and the other opportunities to expand your skills and earn new certifications that exhibitions and events provide. At the very least, such experiences can provide an opening with key contacts.
More information about the benefits of exhibitions and event attendance, as well as statistics about the industry can be found at www.IAEE.com.
Whether you’re the top boss or looking to get hired, exhibitions and events can be a great time and money investment.
PHOTO SOURCE: (c) IAEE and Oscar Einzig •