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neocon1What could be better than spending two days in the Merchandise Mart in Chicago to attend one of the most premier shows of the design industry? Unfortunately, conferences represent challenges for all those attending. How do you possibly attend all of the seminars and wonderful new product and design collections presented in two days?

NeoCon is a perfect place to make important new contacts and catch up with old friends. For anyone in the design industry, NeoCon is certainly “the place to be.” The show features over 100 carefully crafted seminars designed especially to meet the goals of the audience. The keynote speaker program is extremely impressive. My personal favorite is Emmie-nominated host of National Geographic’s #1 rated series “Brain Games,” Jason Silva and his “Luminosity.”

His games are available on his web site or on Facebook and good for challenging yourself while ‘on hold.’

Here are some thoughts on maximizing your time at the show:

1. Plan your list of important contacts and connect with them before the conference.  If you don’t plan before you get there you may be disappointed that all your contacts are already scheduled.

Neocon_inside2. Your best contacts and new associations will be made at ‘after hour events’ so don’t shy away from the cocktail parties even if you’re alone. A welcoming smile and friendly face will be help you connect and be appreciated by others attending. If you don’t plan you’ll never get to see your most important connections. Don’t forget to post lots of photos to your social media pages.

3. Don’t forget your clients at home are depending on you to excite them with new ideas. Why not establish yourself as a ‘trend expert. ‘This is the time to make your social media pages work for you. Clients want to know what you’re up to and what’s exciting your brain. Attending the show should be the means to an end for your personal business. Think how you’re going to use the information to ‘network’ and build your trade when you get back to your community.

4. Consider writing a press release before you attend the show. Talk about what new ideas you’re after and how you will spend your time. Post your ideas to LinkedIn as well as Facebook, and don’t forget to tweet from the show. Your followers will be with you every step of the way and will want a full report on your return. Consider what organizations will be interested in hosting your thoughts and photos before you leave. In addition remember the press release will temporarily help your SEO as well as catch the eye of the local reporters. If you’re from a smaller city, contact the newspapers and television stations and let them know the value of NeoCon and see if you can get an interview or a spot to report on what you saw at the show.

5. Think of yourself as a ‘thought leader’ and attend seminars exhibiting interesting trends and in the forefront of products and design. You can set up interviews with notables, snap a few selfies and post them on your social media. In addition, you can write about your findings on your blog. You might contact a local at home newspaper and offer to pen an article on what’s fresh and trending. This will help you attract new possible contacts and just cement your expertise with your clients.

Establishing expertise often takes years of work and customer referrals. One way to support this is to become the expert and getting information. If you have a particular expertise in a specific industry such as health care, research the seminars and trends at the show and call a local hospital or health care facility and offer to do a seminar. Don’t forget developers and construction customers who also deal in your area of expertise and offer to meet with them after the event.

NeoCon is a way for you to get new ideas for your business and your customers. One new good idea could land you your next job. Try not stress yourself out with what you didn’t get to see. Plan to have a great time and just enjoy.

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