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Ahhh, September-the time of year when the leaves start changing color, the air starts getting cooler...and dozens of fall trade shows begin vying for our attention. First there's SGCD, September 10-13 in San Diego, Calif; then it's off to the CerMA Slipcasting Workshop September 28 and 29, Pittsburgh, Pa. Some of you will next head to Cersaie, October 3-8 in Bologna, Italy, while others will attend the Plant Operator's Forum October 2-4 in Clemson, S.C. Many of you will be attending the giant ceramitec 2000 show and exhibition in Munich, Germany, October 17-21, and then there's the Mexican Ceramic Society Show, October 30-31 in Monterrey, Mexico; the Southwest Section Meeting, November 13-15 in Hot Springs, Ariz.; and ALAFAR, December 4-7 in Chile-plus numerous other shows in between.
In today's hectic business environment, how can anyone possibly make time for so many shows?
Of course you won't be able to attend all of them. But by setting aside a little time for pre-planning, you can make the most important shows work for you instead of creating a frazzled mess out of your appointment calendar.
Evaluate the Opportunities. Before you decide which shows to attend, check out a comprehensive calendar of events, like the one found in Ceramic Industry (see pp. 8-9 or visit www.ceramicindustry.com). Many shows have websites that you can visit to obtain more information, and others list e-mail addresses and phone numbers. Don't be afraid to contact the show organizers to obtain a more detailed description of a particular show-their goal is to get you to attend, and 99.9% of the time they'll be as helpful as possible in getting you the information you need to make your decision.
Go Prepared. Reading show previews, such as the one on DECO 2000 on pages 46-48 in this issue, and our upcoming preview of ceramitec 2000 in the October issue, can help you prepare for the shows you plan to attend. Trade shows present an excellent opportunity to solve manufacturing problems and understand important industry issues. Most conference sessions provide specific times for questions and answers, and many encourage attendees to interact with the speaker or panel during the discussions. Exhibitors are also a good source for technical information since many of them are experts in their field. Arm yourself with specific questions that you want to ask during the conference, and compile a target list of exhibitors to visit to get the most out of the show.
Take Notes. Of course, asking questions is only one part of the equation. Since it's nearly impossible to remember everything said over the course of a three- to five-day show, taking notes is a useful way to ensure that you'll be able to take the information home with you and apply it in your business.
Follow up on Important Contacts. One of the most important aspects of trade shows is the opportunity for networking. Perhaps some of your peers will share ideas on increasing efficiency or cutting down on reject rates. Maybe an exhibitor can provide some new materials or equipment to help you make a better product. Follow up on those contacts to ensure that you get the most out of your time and money attending that trade show.
Fall in this industry can be a hectic season. But by taking steps ahead of time to make sure you attend the right shows, and by making the most of the shows you do attend, you'll be well on your way to improving your business. Enjoy the shows!