A few weeks ago Sheila asked me why we were going to WPPI. She loves the show, but having recently moved into a new house and having good friends coming for a visit right after the show, leaving meant ending our move-in momentum. We're two type A personalities and we've worked hard to unpack and complete a long list of challenges everybody faces when they move.
Every time she asked, my answer was, "I need to be there," or "I haven't missed a WPPI in thirty years," or "I have meetings scheduled." Notice a trend? There were way too many "I''s." The truth is, while I love the show and it represents a significant chapter in my life, she got me thinking about why I was going. The trip was being driven entirely by my ego.
It took me a week to wrestle with the concept of not going, but the truth is, my world isn't coming to an end because I'm missing WPPI. The meetings I had scheduled were moved to ShutterFest in April, where I'm teaching again this year. While I'll miss walking the show, this year's convention is going to be very different - the show has moved to the convention center, something we managed to avoid in all those years at WPPI/Rangefinder. Because of this, there is no central hotel "hosting" the show. Throw in a few other changes and it's going to be a different kind of WPPI this year, but that doesn't mean you can't get the most out of the trip.
Here are six tips to follow with EVERY convention/trade show you attend:
- Never eat alone! It's going to be tougher to bump into people this year - so, make plans in advance. You've got three meals a day to line up time with people you'd like to see. Nothing beats the conversations you can have over breakfast, lunch or dinner. Think about who you want to catch up to and contact them BEFORE you head to Vegas.
- Look at the schedule for programming. There are some great classes, but don't just pick things you enjoy. Make it a point to attend at least one program a day out of your comfort zone! It's just as important to expand your skill set as it is to re-enforce what you already know.
- Look over the exhibitor list. Who are the companies who have products and services you need to strengthen your skills and more importantly, your business? Make a list of your top ten and then make that a focus for each day at the trade show.
- Map out each day! In scuba, there's an expression, "Plan your dive. Dive your plan!" My advice has always been to start in one aisle and walk the entire show. Don't jump around. It was a hard lesson to learn in my early days of diving - I'd chase an angel fish to try and get that one special shot and in the process use up all my air! You don't have to worry about using up your air, just your feet walking all over the convention without a purpose.
- Bring a camera! Not just your phone, but a real camera - even a simple point and shoot. You're looking for images you can use later in your own press releases and blog posts. Look for images that tell a story about things you're trying to do with your business.
- Talk to people! At every class, you attend, make it a point to introduce yourself to the person to your right, left and in front of you. Don't miss the opportunity to build your network.
There it is - six solid tips to get the most out of WPPI. Make it a learning experience focusing on building your strengths in imaging technique and business. And, check out a few of the SCU partners who are all doing some cool things at the show this year:
- Pick up your coupon code for a FREE 16x24 Bella Art Print from Marathon booth 1455.
- Tamron, booth 327 will have a portrait studio set up and your chance to win a new Tamron lens. Plus, need service on a Tamron lens - check out their on-site service set up.
- Panasonic booth 637 is bringing the subway train to Las Vegas, along with your chance to check out the new GH5. Find out what all the buzz about as Panasonic stays true to their tagline of "Changing Photography!"
- X-Rite Photo & Video will be in booth 626 with show discounts on their calibration products. What good is working to capture/create stunning images if they're not being shared with the most accurate color?
- Profoto USA will be in booths 626/629 and 137 with studio setups and your chance to test drive the very best in lighting equipment. Even better, photographers who upload their images from the booth shoots will be in the running to win a B2 Off Camera Flash Kit!
So, while we're missing this year's WPPI show, we'll be there in spirit and wish all of you safe travels and plenty of time with friends and the opportunity to build your network!
And speaking of networks - the most important people in your network are your family and closest friends. Enjoy the day. Go for those long therapeutic hugs and let them know how much you appreciate them!
Happy Sunday everybody!