Not to sound like free advertising for the GAMA Trade Show, but man was that a great show. I have heard from more than one person that GTS this year had a higher pro vibe than in past years. With such crowded shows as in yesteryear, the manufacturers, developers, and distributors didn’t have much time to spend with store buyers. This year, there was a lot of talk between the exhibitors and attendees and business got done. This worked out very well for a graphic designer like myself, trying to make inroads into the industry.
Almost uniformly, exhibitors and attendees commented on how good the show was to get things done. The head of the group I went with was in meetings almost constantly as was a friend of mine working for one of the distributors. All week I tried to connect with the head of one company, missing him on the floor by seconds every time. I only caught up with him during the closing moments of the show. Likewise, one of the people I most wanted to meet was often taking impromptu meetings at his booth, which meant that I didn’t get to meet that publisher until the last hour of the show. (He had great things to say about my work, but that’s for another time.)
But enough about all this me, me, me stuff. Let’s talk about how to function in a show like this one. When heading to a show where you are doing cold approaches, it’s best to really nail down your opening before the show, as mentioned in an earlier blog post. Take the time to practice your conversation starter on someone beforehand; when first impression moment comes around, you do not want to be tripping over your own tongue. (Although you will, especially near the end of the day at a trade show or convention. This is not as embarrassing as one would think—the person you are talking to is also at the end of a long day.)
The other thing I strongly recommend is to listen to Jess Hartley. Not only is she a respected game developer, author, and veteran of the gaming industry, she is also the author of One Geek to Another, a gaming advice column. When she started One Geek, she wrote a series of articles prepping people to pitch games or their services at GenCon. This series of articles was collected as Conventions for the Aspiring Game Professional. While geared towards gamers, the advice contained in the pdf is invaluable for any aspiring professional at any type of trade show or convention. (And by “geared towards gamers”, I mean there is a whole section on there about why it really is not appropriate to have your first contact be made in a steampunk-flavored Boba Fett. You probably will not run into that situation if the show you are attending is MacWorld, although it would be awesome.) The genesis for the final product is still on her website, but the updated and revised version is so worth much much more than the $2 you will spend on it.
Oh, and I’m so looking forward to Gen Con this year.