We’ve been blogging a lot about trade shows recently. (Have you taken our current poll?) And today is no exception! ☺
Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Advanced Energy B2B Conference & Expo in Akron, Ohio. I was part of the NASA Glenn Research Center’s Business Development & Partnerships Office contingent, seeking partnerships with the local businesses, government and economic development agencies, and universities. (Check out our booth! That’s Brian Neff of GreenField Solar Corp.—a company that attributes much of its success to its collaboration with Glenn—with Joe King and Amy Hiltabidel of NASA Glenn’s Innovation Projects Office.)
Produced by Nortech and the Summit County Mayors Association, this was one of the better trade shows I have attended. Why is that? Below are features that made this conference a success. You can use these as a gauge in deciding whether to attend a trade show to market your technologies or network with potential partners.
- Participation from all stakeholder types: Check out this sponsor list. This conference included technical and business development leaders from industry, university, and government labs as well as elected representatives and policy makers—all the players that will make or break advancements in energy. Bringing all of them together allowed them to discuss their diverse perspectives and identify commonalities and unifying themes to help move forward.
- Time and space for networking: Trade shows that are jam-packed with sessions and do not leave time for critical one-on-one engagement can be unproductive for generating licensee/partnership leads. This event’s agenda allowed ample opportunity to engage potential partners in meaningful conversations. The venue also was conducive for engagement, providing tables outside the expo hall where attendees could take a break and engage in the casual conversations that often lead to future business opportunities.
- Bringing in external perspectives: Understanding how external organizations perceive you and your sector is critical to your success. But despite the regional focus of the organizers, this conference looked beyond Ohio’s borders. The program included presentations from Dr. Arun Majumdar, director of the federal Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E), and Mr. Michael Granoff, head of oil independence policies at the California-based company Better Place. This type of external perspective is important for regional- or industry-specific tradeshows because regional success eventually will expand more broadly, and lessons learned by other industries can be applied to your area.
So, kudos to the producers of the Advanced Energy B2B Conference & Expo, and thanks for a very worthwhile event! I hope organizers of other such conferences will consider these comments to make their events successful for attendees.
Do you have some advice to share regarding trade shows and industry conferences? We’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or contact us privately via our Web site.