Attending Conferences as a Rookie

Being the “new face” within a particular industry is something literally everybody has in common. At some point, we have all attended our first trade show or conference - regardless of the industry we choose to work in. But while it may seem intimidating in some aspects; we here at Intrinsik believe this initial apprehension can be turned to curiosity and excitement with the right mindset.

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My own particular experience saw me pivot from an action-sports & fashion background to the medical industry. Specifically, the bespoke medical device space. Getting involved within an industry I knew reasonably broadly, bringing with it a mild sense of apprehension. Something I had not experienced in quite a long time indeed. (Read about my experience here)

After we had set up our stand and surveyed our co-exhibitors, I focussed my attention to turning the mild apprehension and anxiety to my advantage. Simply put, I flipped my own thinking from apprehension to being curious and switched on to learn. As I wandered the exhibition space, my apprehension melted and I felt the dawn of a new phase of my business life emerge. 

The next day was amazing. Both clinicians and laboratory specialists came past and took an interest in what we do. Open to hearing our vision and goal. Moreover, I opened myself up to learning more about what it is they did - what got them out of bed each day - and what they felt would help them do it better. With our first exhibition day over, it was time for the obligatory first evening social mixer. Some might argue this is where true business gets done.

I had been asking people if they were also planning to attend. If they were, I made a point of finding them and saying hi. Every time we were met with “Oh yeah, you guys were the ones listening to us and having fun.” The energy I had been putting into turning my internal dialogue off from anxiety and on to curiosity worked. Mixed with asking more questions than I thought I could manage, conversation flowed. I felt much less the outsider and more engaged with an industry than I could have imagined. 

The keys for all conference and tradeshow rookies are these. Be less anxious and more curious to learn. Engage with people by leading with questions. Have plenty of business cards. But most of all, be honest and open about your rookie status and use it to humerous advantage. People love it when you can poke a little fun at yourself - especially if you’re in Business Development. As a bonus you will feel a lot less the outsider and be just that little more memorable too. The person who asked questions about others, than spoke about themself.

I’ll have the chance to practice what I preach again in 2 weeks time at the Australian Diabetic Foot Conference in Brisbane. If you are going to attend, I’d love to meet and learn about your business too. Will there be any synergy to the meeting? Well, that all starts with a conversation, but I for one enjoy that part of it. 

Let us know if you’re attending too! or reach me via LinkedIn.

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