Oh gosh, October will kill our livers! Two of the three big tradeshows coming up within the same month. I feel sorry for the exhibitors that have to go back-to-back between London and Vegas with their gear, but the bright side is that we are back on schedule, and the pool season is still on when we get to LDI. That has to count for something, right?
For all of you out there who frequently go to tradeshows, do you really take the great opportunity to network at these occasions, or do you play it safe and stick to what you know?
If you chose the latter, you might as well stay home and read about the new products on the internet, to be honest. It will save you a lot of money. I know it’s hard to teach old dogs how to sit properly, so maybe I will direct this to all of you who are about to visit your first tradeshow.
Tradeshows are an amazing opportunity to widen your circle of friends and your network, and every year, I see tons of people missing out on this opportunity, which is a shame. If you go there as an exhibitor, break out from your group and hang out with people outside your office. Hell, you see your work mates five days a week at home. Why on earth would you hang with them when you are traveling? Well, unless they are really hot, of course.
And if you happen to own or manage an exhibiting company, save that team-building dinner plan of yours for a rainy day back home. Set your staff free to explore all the stuff that is outside the four walls of your company. It will benefit both you and your company in the long run.
If you go there as a visitor, again, don’t be stuck within the group you are traveling with all the time. This is your chance to make the connections that will take you farther down the road in your professional life and closer to that show you always wanted to do or even the job you always wanted to get.
The tradeshow floor is full of company owners, designers, and managers, plus you’ll see a bunch of representatives from the large rental houses. These are the people you want to get in with, because these people can get you closer to whatever it is you might be striving for.
But how is it done? Well, many successes in this industry, including mine, have depended on someone being in the right place at the right time and up for the challenge once it presented itself. You don’t need to be a genius to understand that the odds for this opportunity to arise will increase if you leave your group and safe zone, and go out there and talk to people you want to meet.
If you are too shy to do it on the tradeshow floor, fine, alcohol can help you. We love bars! Gosh, we love bars, and it’s a quite predictable bunch of people we’re talking about here, so they are easy to find. And no, you don’t have to drink to just do some networking at a bar. If you are going to LDI in Las Vegas, the Center Bar at the Hard Rock Hotel is a given waterhole. There is no way to know how many agreements have been penciled down on a napkin at that place, but I can assure you, a lot!
I read somewhere that they are tearing the bar down for a complete makeover, but that should be done well in advance before LDI hits the city, so it should be business as usual when we arrive.
But is it really that easy? Yes, it is. As I’m sure you noticed, people in this trade are far from grumpy (well, besides a couple of sound engineers that I know). Reach out, and you will be well received.
See you out there. Safe travels, and don’t forget to pack your toothbrush.
Ola Melzig has 25 years’ experience working in the entertainment concert industry, working his way up from stagehand through all facets of production. Today his resume includes technical director on large-scale events worldwide, including the Eurovision Song Contest, the Commonwealth Games opening and closing ceremonies in New Delhi, India, Espectáculo Conmemorativo, the Cinco de Mayo 150th anniversary show in Puebla, Mexico, and the 2014 IIFA Awards. He recently worked as senior technical manager for the closing ceremony for the 2015 European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan.