Getting the Most Out of PRINTING United
In the age of the internet, budget cutbacks, and increased demands for time, are trade shows and conferences still relevant? The answer is a resounding “Yes!”
Next month, I’ll be attending the first PRINTING United in Dallas (Oct. 23-25, 2019). I look forward to networking with fellow professionals and industry experts. In addition to attending classes and presenting on a panel, I’ll be spending time on the trade show floor with my clients. Together, we’ll learn about what technology is available today – and being created for tomorrow. Attendees will also have the opportunity to explore the convergence between various print technologies, for digital, offset, packaging, wide-format, textile printing, 3D printing and all the related finishing technologies.
My good friend and mentor, Paul Balbastro, has a time management tip for getting the most out of a conference: the "30-30-30-10 Rule." Paul says you should spend:
- 30% of your time at the exhibits,
- 30% of your time in classes,
- 30% of your time networking, and
- 10% of your time enjoying the host city.
Trade shows like PRINTING United provide the best opportunity for face-to-face time with vendors. Nothing can replace seeing a product, touching it, and talking to a vendor about the output. And at a trade show, you can go down to a competitor’s booth three aisles away to compare products. All within a few minutes. The information is fresh in your mind, and you can easily compare apples to apples.
You’re able to attend some great educational sessions. Best of all, you’re learning from fellow managers and industry leaders – people who have actually used the tools and techniques they’re talking about. When you ask questions, you’re not talking to a professor with abstract ideas, but a fellow professional with real world experience. Whether you’ve been in the business for two years or 20, there’s still a lot left to learn.
Speaking of fellow professionals, it is important to expand your network. Whether it’s renewing acquaintances or making new contacts, conferences are the best place for networking. There’s so much to gain by building relationships with your peers in the industry. You’ll know who to call when facing problems for the first time, or checking references on a vendor. Who better to talk to than someone you already know? Your network can become the best tool in your personal development drawer.
Before attending the show, prepare a schedule. Choose the classes and presentations that will help you meet challenges today and tomorrow. Have a plan on which vendors you need to meet on the trade show floor. If possible, schedule appointments with sales people in advance. Remember – leave some free time on the schedule to recharge your batteries.
Keep track of what you accomplish during the shows, and prepare a written report for your manager when your return to the office. Highlight what you learned and how you plan to implement changes in your organization. Include any money savings ideas that you picked up – especially if they’re greater than what it cost you to attend!
When faced with budget cuts, it is often easy to eliminate the trade shows and conferences because they are “optional” expenses. However, if you want to be aware of the latest technologies and products, improve your knowledge of the industry, and establish a solid network of fellow professionals – then consider your attendance mandatory.
See you in Dallas!
Lois Ritarossi is the President of High Rock Strategies, a consulting firm focused on sales and marketing strategies, and business growth for firms in the print, mail and communication sectors. Lois brings her clients a cross functional skill set and strategic thinking with disciplines in business strategy, sales process, sales training, marketing, software implementation, inkjet transformation and workflow optimization. Lois has enabled clients to successfully launch new products and services with integrated sales and marketing strategies, and enabled sales teams to effectively win new business. You can reach Lois at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mark M. Fallon is president and CEO of The Berkshire Company, a consulting firm specializing in mail and document processing strategies. The company develops customized solutions integrating proven management concepts with emerging technologies to achieve total process management. He offers a vision of the document that integrates technology, data quality, process integrity, and electronic delivery. His successes are based upon using leadership to implement innovative solutions in the document process. You can contact Mark at email@example.com.