Picture this: a 21-year-old at her brand-new desk. Her papers are neatly stacked and her notebook is crisp and ready for an ambitious task list.
She was just assigned to coordinate the 2011 CEDIA EXPO booth for her new company. This is her first time hearing about EXPO and her first exposure to the custom installation industry. She is nervous but ready to dive in! She takes a deep breath and gets to work.
If you haven’t guessed by now, that was me about a year and a half ago. I had just started my career with Pakedge Device & Software and was given the job of CEDIA booth planning. I had done a substantial amount of event planning before, so I was ready to tackle this task head-on.
The months leading up to CEDIA were full of graphic creation, paperwork, networking, press-release writing, email-blast designing, and more. When the big week arrived, I jumped on a plane at 6 a.m. and headed to Indiana. Once I made it, I went straight to the convention center to set up our booth.
For the six months prior to CEDIA, I had only been able to look at my specific job and role. I couldn’t see past the fact that I was selling networking gear. I came into the office day in and day out and did my thing. I loved my job, but I couldn’t yet see the industry as a whole.
CEDIA opened my eyes to much more. I was exposed to editors, publishers, our dealers, competitors, and more. I was able to understand that each person was a piece of this “industry story.” I wasn’t just
selling network products; I was selling networking products that were a necessary piece of the puzzle.
When asked why I love CEDIA, my reason is because it connects people and helps create an entire story. It’s one time of year when I can be in the same place with all of my #AVTweeps. First-time connections are made, friendships are strengthened, trends are discovered, partnerships are established, exciting news is broadcasted, and business booms. Yes, the products and technology are important, but essential networking also takes place. CEDIA is what first launched me into this fabulous industry we are a part of.
Looking back at my first EXPO, I had my share of mistakes. Here are some lessons I learned along with a couple of pointers:
- I’m quite a feminine lady and proud of my high-heel-wearing skills. But let’s be real, ladies…it’s impossible. I showed up to the show the first day in my high, high, HIGH heels. I ended up running back to my hotel through the streets of Indianapolis, barefoot, for THE ONLY pair of flats I brought with me. So tip #1: Wear comfortable shoes. The heels can wait for after-hours.
- There will ALWAYS be something you need to do or see. Take breaks to eat, even if it is a light snack. I was so focused on getting everything done that I kept putting off my snack breaks. By the end of the day I realized I hadn’t eaten anything. You won’t get anything done if you are lying on the floor passed out. So tip #2: EAT!
- Give yourself extra time. Exhibitors, this means you. You never know what may go wrong. If the show opens at 9, don’t arrive at your booth at 8:55.
- CEDIA involves a lot of talking! Talking equals dry mouths and hoarse throats. There were times at the show when I had no voice left to give dealers a booth tour. Tip #4: Stock up on mints, gum, cough drops, and water bottles. In my opinion, there is nothing more annoying than being thirsty and hoarse.
- CEDIA is the perfect place to make new friends and business connections. Leave your nerves and timidity at home. Put your game face on and step outside yourself. Head to the parties, introduce yourself to strangers, and put yourself out there. That was one thing I really did right; I stepped outside my comfort zone and made new friends.
That’s all I’ve got for now. Say “Hi” on twitter
and let’s have a GREAT CEDIA EXPO
About Olivia Dumanovsky
Olivia Dumanovsky is a Marketing Associate at Pakedge Device and Software and was a member of the #CEDIATweeps 2012 social media team. Follow Olivia on Twitter at @Olivia_Lyn.