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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Tradeshow Networking

Baselworld 2014 Photo credit: Courtesy of Baselworld

By Lisa Nikfarjam of Lisa Nik, Inc.

Every year it can seem like we are going around in a circle from one event to the next, one store to the next, and one tradeshow to the next. I've heard many retailers and manufacturers ask, “Are we doing too many tradeshows?” and “Maybe we should sit this one out?”

Having established a company during the past five years, I realize that every time I attend a tradeshow or visit a store, or made the effort to attend an event, something significant happens. Companies that have existed much longer may forget this and newer companies may feel hesitant or not even know about the networking opportunities at trade shows. 

We exhibit at the Centurion Jewelry show in Phoenix and at The Couture Show annually. In addition, I attend Baselworld. Walking around this fair, I am always surprised to experience the things that can happen while standing in line for cappuccino, waiting for someone at a hotel lobby and even on the airplane or train from Zurich. There is a special energy in Basel, maybe because the town is laid out in a way that makes things more intimate, making it much easier to bump into fellow jewelers. Since most people are not shy about eavesdropping, you can literally be having a conversation on the tram on the way to the fair and end up with three new friends and business contacts by the time you get there.

I would compare networking in Basel to the feeling that you may have had when doing an abroad program in college. I find that generally, the North Americans congregate together and are pretty easy to find. After walking the colored stone sections in Basel each day, hunting for new materials and colored gemstones, the end of day routine usually leads me to the Plaza, Ramada, or Three Kings lobby to meet up with friends and colleagues. With certainty I know that in these three places, I will find a familiar crowd of editors, retailers, tradeshow executives to share my findings with. 

There are also significant networking opportunities surrounding the JA New York shows, JCK Events, In Store, and the AGTA GemFair Tucson. This year, during the Tucson show, JCK is partnering with the American Gem Society Young Titleholders and Gen Next Jewelers to host a networking mixer on February 3 at the JW Marriott Hotel. For more information on how to attend this event, join GNJ on Facebook.

The Women's Jewelry Association, American Gem Society and GNJ associations make it easy to attend exciting awards ceremonies, mixers, and cocktail receptions. One of the most important galas you can attend in the industry is the WJA Awards for Excellence held during the summer. Whether you are a designer, editor, retailer, manufacturer or industry service provider, there is something special that can happen to you by attending this gala.      

To make the most of it, you have to treat all of these events as an extension of the tradeshows and be prepared to fearlessly talk to new people that you may have never met before. Following up with new friends and acquaintances is always easy when you have had fun mingling while at work.

Lisa Nikfarjam is founder of the jewelry design firm, Lisa Nik, a company that combines colored gemstones, diamonds, and artful elements to create fashionable jewelry that women around the world can enjoy on any occasion.

Please join me on the Jewelry News Network Facebook Page, on Twitter @JewelryNewsNet and on the Forbes website.

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