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Getting Ready for the AIA Show

The 2014 AIA Convention is coming to Chicago June 26-28, 2014. According to the AIA, it is a great opportunity to:

1. Learn

It's a great opportunity to satisfy your continuing education requirements. Topics include: "Designing Schools for Obesity Prevention." "Increasing Your Firm's Bottom Line by Adjusting for Shifting Demographics." "Exploring Energy-Generating Affordable Housing."

2. Solve technical issues

Bring your questions-you're highly likely to find an answer among the hundreds of professionals leading seminars and the experts managing nearly 800 displays at the AIA Expo 2014.

3. Get out in front

Discover new building materials and technologies that will have a dramatic impact on your work. Experience firsthand new ideas and trends that will influence the lives of those for whom you're designing.

4. Promote you

Take advantage of rare opportunities to interact with award-winning creatives, motivating business leaders, and innovative engineers. Interaction happens not only in seminars and events, but also on the expo floor, where the atmosphere is geared toward getting you information you can use.

5. Collaborate and connect

The days of working in silos are over. Successful development projects require team players and tight integration. Gaining experience in collaboration and working with other disciplines raises your value in the workplace and the marketplace-and this is the place to make the essential connections.

6. Enjoy the diversity

You'll encounter new faces that reflect the changing profile of the architecture and design field. Check out programs centered on women in architecture or classes designed to help you start up a firm of your own.

This is the official take on the show. I think all the above points are good ones. No matter if you're attending a trade show for the first time or your company is exhibiting at one for the twentieth time, it will be an incredibly valuable experience. Opportunities are abundant for networking, acquiring business leads, and promoting your business.

As a magazine editor, trade shows are an invaluable opportunity to see the equipment I write about and interact with the companies behind them. As a veteran of many trade shows throughout the country, here are five pieces of advice I would give that have helped me optimize trade shows.

1. Set specific goals

Approach the trade show with clearly defined objectives, both at a business level and a personal level. Set goals that are measurable, timely, and precise, yet also realistic and attainable.

2. Wear comfy shoes

Trade shows involve long hours of standing and walking around, so you'll want to make sure that you wear (or have on hand) comfortable shoes that won't leave your feet aching 10 hours later.

3. Stay connected

Internet may or may not be readily available at the trade show location, and even if it is, there's no guarantee that you will be able to be connected the whole time. Look for hotspots and Internet kiosks to stay in touch.

4. Know the agenda

Most trade shows provide exhibitors with copies of the event schedule. These can be quickly lost or forgotten about, so it's best to print out a trade show agenda beforehand to have ready for easy reference.

5. Take notes for future reference

Each and every day, take notes of how things are progressing at your booth. Capturing your thoughts throughout the day will make the future a whole lot easier than trying to look back and remember what you were thinking.

I hope the above information helps and I hope to see you at the show.

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