Before you jump off the dock into the NWFA Expo waters in Tampa this April, take a few minutes to prepare for swimming with the big fish!
Seriously, if you’ve made up your mind to take part in what is shaping up to be the largest NWFA Expo in recent years, take a few minutes to map your course.
If you’re already an Expo-attending expert, you probably have your own short list of tried-and-true tactics for making the most of the few days we will have together. That said, there’s always room for some new tips since there will be more educational and networking opportunities than you can take advantage of in our short time together.
So here are nine tips designed to help you navigate:
- Track the sharks first: Set up appointments in advance with your best partners or those you have issues with that need a face-to-face or heart-to-heart talk.
- Swim in real time: Download the NWFA Expo app where you can see who is on the show floor, who just registered, and which companies are doing demonstrations. NWFA’s social media channels are also on the app so you can see what the attendees are doing and what they’ve liked that you should see.
- Don’t swim in schools: Review the agenda and make a plan for which sessions you’re going to attend, and then discuss with others from your company. Divide and conquer rather than swimming in a school. Have a back-up in mind too, as a lot of NWFA tracks fill up or have standing room only.
- Don’t miss the big kahunas: Make sure to attend conference-wide events like the opening and closing keynote addresses. The NWFA doesn’t hold breakout sessions or tradeshow hours during these presentations and the events are held with open bars and entertainment before and after.
- Stay between the buoys: Orient yourself with the convention center and event space. All events are taking place in the Tampa Convention Center, even the outdoor receptions.
- No slugs: Technology and socializing are important, but don’t get too caught up to miss the live events or make a roomful of people have a negative impression of you by showing up late.
- Enjoy your big catch: Go home with lots of new contacts and write down follow-up questions. Connecting with people you met is best done immediately. Send follow-up notes and LinkedIn requests while the conference is still fresh. Make yourself memorable by reminding your new connection what you discussed.
- Play beach blanket bingo: Have fun. Remember that the people in your sessions or on the tradeshow floor are as important as the sessions themselves. Connecting with one good contact during Expo has changed more than one career.
- Teach a guppy or two: If you learned something, pass it on. Chances are the person next to you when you return to work could use the information too. Plus, if you teach someone else what you’ve learned, you’ll reinforce the learning for yourself too. Sharing information will help your colleagues do better work and also establish you as a leader on your team.