With PhotoPlus coming up from October 24-26, 2019, I thought it might be a good time to share some ideas on getting the most bang for the buck when attending a convention.
Wear comfortable clothes
Be comfortable in your clothing, but in my opinion, you should still be professional. You never know whom you are going to meet and you never get a second chance to make a first impression. I recommend business casual. And, wear comfortable shoes. There’s a LOT of walking in the Javits center. I recommend having a sweater or fleece you can pop on or off to stay comfortable in rooms that might be a bit on the chill side.
I also carry a refillable water bottle stashed in a lens case.
Do you have vendors you work with that are showing? Go meet them. Putting faces to names, and getting yours in front of them, can lead to extra service.
Make a list of equipment and/or software you are interested in and visit with new vendors. See your listed vendors first and if there’s still time wander and see what’s new.
While there are no formal education classes at PhotoPlus this year, there will be plenty of presentations and education opportunities on the trade show floor.
List the programs that you want to see and keep a list. Choose the ones that will help you with business, marketing, sales and, of course, photography and lighting skills.
Get to the programs early and introduce yourself to your neighbors and ask questions. I’ve learned as much doing this as I have in programs, which can double your take home info!
Make general notes on ‘take-aways’ that you wish to implement in your business. You will probably have 8-10 from each program. Don’t get bogged down into taking too many notes, as you’ll end up missing lots of info. This is very important! Learn about things you need to learn … but don’t try to learn it all on-site (see post-convention advice below).
Networking is a great way to learn more. If you travel with another photographer from your hometown don’t hang with them because it’s more comfortable. Expand your network.
Meet up with other photographers for a coffee, adult beverage, lunch or dinner. I have learned tons over a beer at the bar. If you see people with ribbons and metals around their neck think of that as permission to ask questions. These are people who have participated in image competition and sharing their knowledge through teaching programs throughout their careers.
Bring plenty of business cards to leave with your new contacts. I’ve designed my business cards with a bit of space at the bottom for a note or two. It makes the card more versatile.
Have some fun
I always make sure I schedule some time to go play when at a convention. Experiment with some new techniques. Capture the flavor of the area — you are a photographer after all! I remember being so tuned in to getting education for years I never broke out my camera attending conventions. Big mistake on my part.
Here’s a video I created while experimenting called “New York Minute.” Watch for the behavior of people with the approaching ambulance …
A lot of people fall down on this. What to do with the information you have gathered at the convention? Make sure to put together a plan for executing the new ideas.
Following the convention set aside a morning to review all your “take-aways” and prioritize them in order of importance.
Schedule time on your calendar each week (or each day) to work on the items on your list in order of importance. You should probably have about six months or more worth of things to learn, practice and implement. This will ensure that you actually use the info you learn rather than going back to the next convention saying “Oh, that was a great idea! I meant to do that last year …”
Yours in Creative Photography, Bob