Spring brings trade show season, and as a cosmetic formulator you will be presented with ample opportunities to go to trade shows like Suppliers Day, in-cosmetics, HBA and more. It seems there is some kind of meeting going on every month.
Trade shows and industry meetings are a great chance to meet lots of people, learn during excellent talks, socialize and even meet cosmetic science celebrities. When done right they can be extremely useful and productive. Remember, your time is valuable, and these meetings can help you solve problems at work, come up with new ideas, and even advance your career. Here are some key steps to make your next cosmetic industry trade show productive.
- Figure out why you are going. Sure, a cosmetic science meeting is an excellent place to learn new things, but you can do that by reading books, watching videos, and taking courses. If you are going to attend a trade show or scientific seminar, you should strive to get more out of it. Make a list of things you want to accomplish. Also, write down who you want to meet, questions you want answered, or connections to people who can help you. Basically, go into the event with a plan.
- Research the show. While you’re figuring out why you are going, take a look at who will also be there. Who are the speakers, which companies will be there, who will be exhibiting. This will help you determine who to will meet and where you will spend your time. Typically, meetings have a website which lists the program, speakers, and companies. Go online to help with your research.
- Plan what you’re going to do. Next, plan how you will spend your time. If you can, list the names of people you want to talk to and figure out one key thing that you want them to answer. Begin with that one thing, but note that the conversation might expand to cover more questions that you have. Just make sure you know the one thing you’re looking to get answered. Of course, try not to be selfish. The other people at the show have a limited amount of time and have things that they want to accomplish too.
- Connect with people. Once you’ve got your list of people / companies you want to talk to, go seek them out. Do not get distracted by talking with your friends (you can see them later). Go meet the people you are at the meeting to meet. Invite them out for a drink (or coffee). Or just talk to them whenever you get a chance. Remember your time is valuable as is their’s.
- Use social media. These days many show exhibitors and attendees are using social media to communicate information about the meeting. Be sure to see if there is a hashtag for the event so you can follow what is happening on Twitter. You might find things going on at the show of which you were not aware. Following on Twitter will also let you experience more of the show that you may have missed.
- Learn to leave conversations. Steer the conversation to your main topic. Don’t be afraid to interrupt and get right to your point, politely of course. Using the excuse that you have another meeting is an effective exit strategy.
- Meet with people after the main meetings. Since most people are busy during the meetings, it’s often useful to connect with them after the main meetings. Meeting at a bar is particularly helpful. People who have a few drinks are a lot more open with information. If you don’t like to attend night events you are at a significant disadvantage.
One final bit of advice…bring lots of business cards! Most of the companies displaying at these shows are there to make connections and your business card is the primary way they do that.
Trade shows and scientific meetings are great events to attend for cosmetic chemists. They can be productive and you can meet people who can help solve problems and advance your career. But be sure to plan your trip and figure out exactly what you want to get out of it. It will be much more useful if you do.
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