By Mary Higham, CEM, Manager, Exhibits with ASIS International
Still on the fence about signing up for Expo!Expo!?
Expo!Expo! is by far the best gathering of exhibition and event professionals each year. It is an absolute must attend event, whether you are a young professional or seasoned industry veteran. The networking and education are invaluable. Additionally, as an event organizer, attending Expo!Expo! will give you the perspective to be better at your job. Be it finding a new vendor, meeting a peer to bounce ideas off of in the future, or even being able to experience an event from the attendee perspective, Expo!Expo! will enrich your career and job skills. Even if your company won’t finance the registration, it’s important to invest in yourself and your future. I certainly did.
When I was at the beginning of my career and just starting my CEM designation, my (former) employer told me that they were not able to finance either my CEM or my Expo! Expo! registration. Though I was still paying off student loans, I decided to finance my own way, and it was one of the best investments I ever made.
I resolved to try to find at least one takeaway from each session. Even if it wasn’t events and exhibitions knowledge, there are many sessions that offer insights into personal branding, professional development, and personal wellness. On the Expo! Expo! show floor, I discovered new vendors, some of whom we have ended up later contracting with.
Since the only person I knew attending was my boss, I never expected the level of networking that I encountered; I was able to meet new people in sessions, receptions, and even the hotel lobby, and ended up finding incredible peers, mentors, and even some of my now closest friends. Even as a newcomer to the industry, everyone was incredibly friendly and hospitable to me, and I found it to be an excellent illustration of the people in our industry.
Through connections I made at my first Expo! Expo! I found volunteer opportunities both at the local chapter, of which I am currently a board member, and on national committees like the Young Professionals Committee and CEM Commission. Being a member of these committees has opened doors for me in connecting with other members across the country, not to mention as ways to give back to the industry. Additionally, through connections I made at Expo! Expo! I was given the opportunity to interview for my current position. The letter of recommendation to the hiring manager (my current boss) was sent on my behalf by an industry peer, and I was later told influenced my getting the initial interview. Being able to discourse about Expo!Expo!, and our experiences with IAEE was a topic in our interview, and I believe influenced my being considered a “fit” for the department. (I remain convinced that the initial conversations about our mutual lack of “winning” at the prize stage bonded us for life).
Now that I have had the opportunities to attend many Expo! Expo!s since that first one, nothing has changed for me. I still find excellent takeaways from the sessions; I always seem to find new products and exhibitors with a lot to offer and usually find at least one new vendor each year. I greatly enjoy meeting new people who are facing similar issues and can discuss solutions, collaborations, and ideas.
Don’t waste another minute to capitalize on the future opportunities that Expo! Expo! can provide you. It’s time to get off of the fence and register! I look forward to seeing you in Baltimore!
If you have any questions about my experiences at Expo!Expo! please feel free to email me at Mary.Higham@asisonline.org.