Every journey at Expo! Expo! is uniquely different, but what brings it all together is the continued drive to learn from one another and our passion to keep our shows flourishing. Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition provides attendees with a diverse marketplace to view and assess the tools needed to plan and manage successful trade shows and events for years to come. Here, IAEE spoke to past 20 Under 30 honoree, Madelynn Thompson, Show Coordinator at ConvExx, who shared the importance of connections and learning at Expo! Expo!.
Tell us a little about yourself. What are your current responsibilities?
I’m 24 years old with an educational background in criminal justice/pre-law and have been working in the B2B exhibitions industry full time now for about 2 years. Prior to that, I was an independent contractor so my industry experience is about 4 years at this point.
As Show Coordinator for ConvExx, my current responsibilities are to provide housing accommodations and VIP services from all our shows. This includes managing the housing blocks for all our shows, negotiating contracts and executing contracts, maintaining relationships with hotels, providing VIP services and experiences to guests and handling VIP travel arrangements. In addition to this, I also manage special projects such as new products showcase programs, competitions and awards programs and various attendee activities. Working for a small company means we wear a lot of hats and get our hands into aspects of the show that aren’t necessarily our responsibilities. For this reason, I also assist with sponsorship contracts and fulfillment, meeting planning, marketing, sales and future show planning.
Last year, you attended Expo! Expo! for the first time as a 20 Under 30 honoree. How would you describe your Expo! Expo! experience as an honoree?
It felt like being a VIP. The recognition as a 20 Under 30 honoree was a great ice breaker for conversation for a young professional with limited industry experience and connections. People were interested in talking to me. Often people sought me out to talk to me so it definitely helped me meet a lot of people. It was a special experience.
How would young professionals like yourself benefit from attending Expo! Expo!?
Young professionals who don’t have a lot of experience in the industry can benefit from Expo! Expo! by attending the education classes and networking with as many people as possible. The B2B exhibitions industry is about learning from each other and Expo! Expo! provides the space to really do that.
What education sessions caught your attention at Expo! Expo!? Did you have any takeaways from those sessions?
The 20 Under 30 orientation was a great session with my fellow honorees. I learned that first impressions are vital. It can take 3-4 months to break that first impression.
Were there any insights from Expo! Expo! that you implemented in your organization? If so, what were they?
In our 20 Under 30 orientation, we talked a great deal about how personality types affect our styles and how we interact with our coworkers and employers. A valuable lesson I learned in this session was through an exercise where we needed to communicate, work with, instruct, and even reprimand others with different personality types from our own.
Since leaving Expo! Expo!, I have faced new challenges associated with increased leadership and the necessity to communicate with clients and colleagues. I apply the skills I learned in that lesson to make sure I’m as effective as possible in my communication with various stakeholders. Sometimes the way I would say something off the cuff isn’t the best way to communicate what I really intend to. The way we are perceived is not always what we intend to portray. I took this lesson further and applied this way of thinking to the preparation of marketing content, and even program building.
How did you approach your time spent at Expo! Expo!?
Easy! Don’t sleep. Just kidding.
Actually, it was easy to fit it all in. Expo! Expo! does a great job of scheduling the program so that education and the show floor don’t really compete with each other. I was able to attend all the sessions I wanted to and walk the show floor without rushing. The off-the-clock networking opportunities on the other hand – that’s where you have to make some decisions.
Name an unforgettable moment that has happened to you at Expo! Expo!.
I was talking to my mentor who was a senior business developer at a very large company. I was talking to him about the path I was choosing and what I had done and he was able to offer a lot of suggestions in terms of education and training. This conversation was encouraging to me because I was still transitioning into my new role and figuring out what I wanted. He helped me feel confident in that what I was doing was in the right direction.
If you were talking to someone who had not attended Expo! Expo! and was considering going, what would you say to him/her?
Everyone in this industry should go and have this experience. Experience the “Gold Standard” of trade shows. You won’t regret it. You are going to meet new people. You are going to learn something new and find inspiration. You’re going to have a wonderful time.
What tip would you give to a first-time attendee that you wish someone had told you when you attended Expo! Expo! for the first time?
Bring lots of business cards, but don’t just shove it in someone’s face. Talk to them, give them the business card just before you leave (or whenever it makes sense).
What is one event or program that attendees cannot miss at Expo! Expo! that you thoroughly enjoy?
The opening night networking event! It’s a great opportunity to network in a more relaxed environment and to see what the host city has to offer.
Will you be attending this year’s Expo! Expo! in Las Vegas? If so, what programming are you looking forward to experiencing?
I hope so! I’m looking forward to the YP Party. I was so nervous last year, but I’m looking forward to helping new comers get to know our community.
Do you know a rising leader in the exhibition industry like Madelynn? Nominate him/her for the 20 Under 30 program! Nominations for 20 Under 30 are due this Friday, 16 August. For more information on requirements and the nomination process, visit the Expo! Expo! site.