By: Thomas Greenman, Service Manager at Skurla’s POS Solutions
RetailNOW is my favorite conference of the year! It truly is the main event that our company puts 110% of our focus on. In just a few days, the best vendors, dealers and industry players come together under the RSPA banner and provide a whirlwind of information. It’s a lot of valuable information to process and just a short amount of time to do it in. Here’s my tips on how to maximize your RetailNOW visit – so get ready preppers!
- Download the schedule ahead of time – This should go without saying but download the schedule and decide what events you are going to. There are general sessions to attend (where everyone goes) and then there are specific events, most of which are going on at the same times as others. If you have multiple people from your company attending, split up the events to maximize your coverage. If it’s just you, plan out what events you really need to attend. Don’t stress out too much if you run up against two “must attend” events. RSPA typically has events materials available to its members after the show.
- Schedule your vendor/networking meetings – Now that you’ve figured out what RSPA events you’re going to attend, it’s time to figure out your other meetings. It’s typical for vendors at RetailNOW to have their own specific meetings or receptions a day or two before the main event kicks off or after hours during the event. These are excellent opportunities to get up to speed on the latest offerings, information or just some face time with your vendors/partners that you wouldn’t necessarily be able to do outside of the event.
Also, if there are RSPA members that you want to speak with or meet, try to make those arrangements as soon as possible. This is one of my favorite things about RetailNOW. The conversations you have with other peers in the industry can literally change how you do business for years to come.
- Attend social events – I’ve been to several RetailNOW events and in the beginning, I wasn’t too keen on attending some mixers and other social events. Nowadays, I try to go to as many as I can! Get out, attend and have some fun. You’ll enjoy yourself, deepen existing relationships and make connections that could lead to new opportunities.
- Be prepared – As a byproduct of the Scouting system, I still follow the mantra “be prepared”. Be ready for some long nights and early mornings. I usually excuse myself a little early from late night activities so I can be up and focused in the morning, ready to give 110% to this once a year event. Here are some more “be prepared” tips:
- Get coffee when you can Carry a copy of the schedule (typically the show guidebook)
- Drink water (and don’t pass up restroom breaks!)
- Try not to take calls or check email during a session (especially if it’s a session by Jim Roddy!)
- Never trust the hotel alarm clock
- Conference rooms are typically cold
- Don’t forget to have fun
- Take lots of photos – Slide decks for most events are available after the show but I still take photos of some slides anyways. Sometimes I feel like a court stenographer, snapping photos and taking notes on my phone (or Slacking them to office) but it helps me organize my takeaway thoughts from whatever sessions I attended. It can be easy to get overloaded by the information that you take in so when in doubt, grab a shot of it.
Photo ProTip: Take a picture of your schedule for the day before you leave your room in the morning. It’s typically easier and faster to look at that photo than trying to dig out your schedule.
Photo ProTip #2: Take pictures of business cards, it’s easier to manage and share!
- Visit every booth in the Expo Hall (if you can) – I always visit the booths of our vendor partners, but I also make an effort to check out all the booths. Nothing is more permanent than change, and you’ll see it in the Expo Hall. It may be seem easy to dismiss some booths but take a deeper look – what you find may not be relevant today, but it could be a game changer in the future. Most RetailNOW events have a drawing or raffle for people who visit most or all of the vendors, so get out there and see those vendors.
You’ll also get a lot of flyers, sales materials and swag from the expo hall. Chances are you won’t be able or willing to carry it all back with you. Take photos of what you can, pickup what you can’t. Save room for the really good swag – like insulated water bottles or coffee mugs!
- Add network connections on LinkedIn – Everyone has a lot on their plate before, during and after the show, so stay in touch with those important contacts you meet by adding them on LinkedIn. It’s an easy way to manage who you talked to and gives you an opportunity to see what else they are working on as well as other areas of interest you may share.
There are plenty more RetailNOW tips out there – if you’d like to share yours, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “RetailNOW Tips”. See you on the floor!