Be prepared for Imaging USA! Make Yourself a Convention Strategy!
Attending a photography convention is a big deal..and the biggest one of all is Imaging USA. There's lots to consider when it comes to budget, time, and the takeaways that will (or won't) make the entire trip worth it. If you're the type that likes to know what they'll be getting out of their trip, you should consider making a Convention Strategy to help you make the most of your three days of everything photography.
If you've been to Imaging USA before you've probably attended a class by Bob Coates, M.Photog.Cr., CPP. Bob is a photo-convention PRO and he's written an article for PhotoFocus on how to make the best of your convention strategy.
1. Wear comfortable shoes - business casual and comfortable shoes are the key elements here. You want to look decent and presentable since this is a networking event and you might need to make an impression on someone. But you also want to look comfortable and like you're not "trying too hard". It is meant to be a convention after all, where your primary goal is to learn. Bring shoe insoles and wear comfortable, yet nice-looking, clothing.
2. Trade show strategy - Your Expo strategy is of utmost importance, especially at Imaging USA where there are hundreds of your favorite vendors showing off their latest and greatest products. Be sure to make a list of the vendors that are most important to you and go meet them. Putting faces to names helps establish long-lasting relationships with the vendors you need to run a successful photography business. You can also make a list of new products and vendors you want to introduce yourself to and begin a relationship right there on the Expo floor.
3. Education - there are SO MANY educational opportunities at Imaging USA that this is another area where you'll want to strategize. Make a list (or, even better, use the app!) of the classes you most want to attend and then line that list up with your trade show list so you can be sure to hit up all the people and classes you want in the three days of Imaging USA. Build in the time to get to the programs early, meet your neighbors, and be prepared to ask questions. Make notes of 8-10 takeaways but don't get too bogged down in notetaking where you miss understanding key elements of the class.
4. Networking - It may be tempting to gravitate towards the photographers and friends you know from your hometown and sit next to them the entire convention..resist this urge! Meet strangers in coffee shops, restaurants, bars, etc...when you see someone with ribbons and bars around their neck, THAT is someone to talk to! They will have a wealth of experience and trade-show knowledge and I guarantee they will be happy to share with you. Also, don't forget how important it can be to bring business cards!
5. Have Fun - build in time to go play and just have fun! Try new photography techniques you've never tried before. If you give yourself time and permission, a trade show can be a wonderful place to experiment.
6. Post-convention tips - don't forget the final (and maybe most important!) step...set aside time after the show to organize your notes and takeaways by order of importance. Work on one tip each day (or week) and you'll likely have months worth of actionable items to try. It sure beats finding your notes a year later and realizing you never implemented any of them!
There you have them...ideas for how to make the most of your Imaging USA 2020 in Nashville, TN. Don't forget to register NOW and, if you can only make the trade show, go for FREE with a FREE EXPO PASS! Sign up now and start strategizing your 2020.