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What's the Deal with Trade Shows?

March 22, 2018

GDC, E3, CES, WPPI, CP Plus, CeBIT, NAB, cinec, DIY Film Festival, Siggraph, Blizzcon, D.I.C.E., ISS, DAC and InPrint-Exhibition. If you guessed this was a list of hip boy bands, Wall Street group or black ops government projects, you would be wrong. These are just a small sampling of the thousands of trade shows that take place across the globe every year. Trade shows usually roll into your local convention center without much fanfare, sucking in business people in suits and ties by the thousands and, just as quickly disappear without a trace, making way for the next trade show in line. But, what are trade shows and, more importantly, why should you—my young student friend—care?

Trade shows are an exhibition for companies in a particular industry to showcase and demonstrate their new products and services. Trade shows are where manufacturers or service providers gather to wow their buyers with the latest and greatest, where industries get their mojo on! Every industry has at least one trade show, somewhere. For the most part, these industry gatherings are closed to the public and can only be attended by company representatives and members of the press. There may be a way to the party through the back door, though. Many colleges or college clubs have contacts to acquire passes or set up booths at the trade show. Also, most trade shows offer free tickets and access to those that are willing to volunteer. A few trade shows open their doors to everyone, welcoming the public in to view the various goods and offerings.

Once you are in the show, you’ll find trade shows to be a gold mine of contacts, bridge building, and learning. Imagine if you, as an aspiring (fill in your favorite industry here), could access acres of the most influential people in the sector, the industry you someday hope to work in. And imagine (keep believing) that you could use your charismatic personality to unlock jobs, knowledge, contacts, opportunities just with a simple handshake or introduction. And, just to top off your industry wonderland, many of the companies at the convention are looking for you—yes, you! All the merchandise, games, clothing, toys and shoes, even the gizmos and whatchamacallits have to be created for the next trade show and you—my student friend—could be the person to do just such a job! In fact, it is fair to say that every single individual at a trade show was in your shoes at some point. They all found that first, second or best job with a single contact. A trade show is full of connections, the perfect place for a student.

So what are you waiting for—the next Convention, exhibition or trade show could be coming to your town next week! Check online for any trade shows in your favorite industry, plan and try to attend. Bring your business cards with you, you never know, your next job may come from someone you meet at the trade show.

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