Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock this summer, you might’ve heard CEDIA’s kicking off next week in San Diego. Whether you’re a grizzled veteran or a fresh-faced rookie, make the most of your experience by following a few of these tips and tricks:
- Don’t schedule yourself to death: Your reps will all want to meet up and squire you around to their manufacturers. It’s OK to do this a couple of times, but your entire day can get eaten up with these booth tours. Plan on walking the floor Thursday morning to get a feel for the layout and start your appointments towards lunchtime.
- Take a class: CEDIA is chock full of educational opportunities, many of them only available at the show. Always wanted to become a Certified Outreach Instructor or get your theater design skills polished up? Now is your chance.
- Make some friends: Great industry connections can knock down doors and speed up your business rhythm. Who do you admire or wish to emulate? Seek them out and stick out your hand. You’ll never meet a friendlier bunch of people eager to help you grow.
- Don’t pay for food: You heard me. If you are paying for food or drink next week, you’re doing it wrong. I’ve never seen so many vendor events crammed into such a short amount of time. There’s no free lunch, but chances are you’re doing business with a ton of manufacturers at the show, and they want to say thanks. Let them!
- Watch yourself on and off the show floor: Our industry likes to party. There’s nothing wrong with having a good time, but keep in mind the people around you are colleagues (and maybe your future employer). Think of anything around CEDIA as a never-ending job interview and you’ll be fine.
- Make a plan: Three days can slip by in a blink if you’re not careful. Make a list of goals before coming to the show and stick to the script. Taking time out to visit CEDIA is expensive, but well worth the investment if you plan your time properly. Make a list of must-see exhibitors, classes, and and networking events (hint: you can’t do them all!). My goal this time is to find a proposal front end to weave into our back-office customer relationship management system (CRM). Two years ago, Randy Stearns saved us over $300k annually by tweaking our labor utilization. Not bad for $2000 worth of travel!
- Volunteer: CEDIA wouldn’t be CEDIA without hundreds of volunteers working behind the scenes to make sure everything’s running smoothly. From teaching to serving on committees driving strategic direction, there’s a place for you. Make it your business to find out more at the show. (Full disclosure: I serve on CEDIA’s Board of Directors, but they didn’t ask me to write this.)
While CEDIA 2018 will be gone in a flash, don’t forget CEDIA isn’t just a show, it’s our industry’s trade association and the glue that binds us all together. Do your part to carry on the strong traditions which began over 30 years ago in Amelia Island, SC. Watch for more exciting changes from CEDIA in the coming months as the new strategic plan announced earlier this year starts to reach the execution stage. I couldn’t be any prouder to be a part of this industry. We’re just getting warmed up.
Stay frosty and see you in the field.
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