There is nothing more powerful than a face-to-face connection. At Expo! Expo!, you’re in an energetic and passionate space with industry professionals who want one another to succeed in their endeavors. With over 20 networking opportunities, you’ll be sure to find your person or even a squad that will make your Expo! Expo! experience that much better.

With over 20+ years in the industry, IAEE had the chance to talk to Jim Wulfekuhle about the connections he has made at Expo! Expo! and his involvement with the IAEE Southeast Chapter.

Jim is currently the Vice President of Sales & Marketing for the International Woodworking Fair, LLC. and is  responsible for attendance, sponsorships, marketing and exhibit sales.

Why do you attend Expo! Expo!?

My first attendance at Expo! Expo! was in 1996. I attend for the networking, education and to see what’s new for the industry. I like the fact that there is always a take-away and a lot of times, the take-away is from someone I have never met before.

What key benefits do you get by attending Expo! Expo!?

By attending Expo! Expo!, I’ve learned that there are ways to improve what you are currently doing. Also, you can learn what is working in a different industry sector’s event outside of your event, even if the event might have nothing in common with your own.

What insights from Expo! Expo! have you implemented in your organization?

At Expo! Expo!, there are topics that are relevant to all in the industry. Education sessions regarding data and digital marketing have been very important to our group in terms of strategy and best practices.

What education sessions caught your attention at Expo! Expo!?

I always for look for education sessions that are focused on thinking outside the box and looking towards the future while having the ability to implement those strategies now. I also look for speakers that I have not heard before.

This year, you’re involved in the Expo! Expo! Advisory Committee. What changes should attendees expect to see at this year’s Expo! Expo! in San Antonio?

I like the focus on new suppliers and technology. I think those are very important in our industry. And the networking opportunities have been improved significantly. Again, some of the best take-aways are conversations and if you’re not there, you will always miss out. The conversations that you have at Expo! Expo! are incredibly valuable. There are people that know what you are doing and they know what others are doing. From the networking, people can create a match between you and their networks, which leads to an introduction and discussion.

As an active member of the Southeastern Chapter and serving on the Chapter Board as Secretary, why is it important to be involved with one’s local chapter?

It is essential that we give back and share what works and what may not have worked. I believe it’s important to share so that we can be better for our Chapter members. Being involved in the Chapter accelerates the learning curve for those new to the industry. Also by being involved, you get out of your comfort zone and learn something different.

When the Southeastern Chapter gets together at Expo! Expo!, what is something all the members do that probably other attendees don’t do?

We are a group that really focuses on helping each other. So, I think the difference is that no matter the situation – if it’s something on the floor or a conversation –  we are ready to help another person in our Chapter. We help them get connected with the group. Also, we keep in contact each day via text and in person.

Name an unforgettable moment that has happened to you at Expo! Expo!.

Every moment at Expo! Expo! is great. What sticks out the most is when a LinkedIn group that I started got together in Atlanta during Expo! Expo! for a meet up. Another great memory are those moments where you meet with people and it becomes long-term relationships. Expo! Expo! has this environment where industry veterans and also people new to the industry can bounce ideas off of each other and create connections.

If you were talking to someone who had not attended Expo! Expo! and was considering going, what would you say to him/her?

If you have to, put together reasons as to why your employer should send you to Expo! Expo!. I know one time I had to pay for the event myself before my current job. You need to be at Expo! Expo! It’s a yearly event where you can see it all and get to meet people that will enrich your experience in this industry.

What is one event or program that attendees cannot miss at Expo! Expo! that you thoroughly enjoy?

I like all of the Chapter Events. My biggest thing is the networking. I call it the one-to-one experience, where we all get to really have some insightful discussions. This can happen anywhere whether it begins in an educational program or during a product demonstration on the trade show floor. It’s all a stepping stone to success in the industry.

What are you looking forward to experience and learn at this year’s Expo! Expo!?

What I’m looking for is something that I didn’t already know or something that gets me closer to where I want to be. I always get something and a lot of times it’s not what I expected.

To start making connections, register for Expo! Expo! and plan out your schedule.

Posted by Elizabeth McQuade

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