Confessions of a tradeshow newbie: What I learned at XChange 2015

Posted by Katie Sousa on Aug 14, 2015 3:22:19 PM

XChange_2015_Gremlin_shirtsI just joined Intronis a few weeks ago as the event associate, so I was thrilled to get the chance to go to XChange 2015 down in Washington D.C. to experience my first tradeshow. Talk about starting out big!

From the moment my flight landed at Reagan National Airport, I knew it was going to be an exciting (and really busy!) three days. Other than the view from the airplane, I didn’t get to see much of the sites in D.C., but I learned so much about what an IT channel tradeshow is like and how to get the most out of the experience.

1. Being prepared pays off

I was the first person from Intronis to get to XChange, and I have to admit it was a little overwhelming! I had to find all the packages that I’d shipped for the conference and then set up our booth. Luckily, I had really detailed instructions from our marketing manager (and event guru) Erin Shaw Crowley, so I knew exactly what to do once I got started, which helped make everything so much easier.

Once I tracked down the final packages with our collateral and T-shirts, I felt settled in and ready to go, especially after the rest of the team arrived to join me at the booth. CMO Aaron Dun, Director of Product Marketing Matt Kowalski, Regional Sales Director Ben Woodford, and Account Executive Manager Tim Keane where all there for the conference, so I know I’d be able to learn so much simply by watching them work.

2. Be ready to improvise

When the exhibitor hall opened, I got a chance to walk around with our CMO, Aaron Dun, and observe what other vendors were doing, and it was great on the fly training. Aaron pointed out some do’s and don’ts, and we analyzed the booths and collateral we saw.

For example, we saw one booth with a mismatched panel, and Aaron explained how important it is to be able to troubleshoot when something goes wrong — like having the wrong panels shipped. I told him how I would have handled it differently, and we talked about how it could be a positive, getting people’s attention and drawing them in to ask about what happened.

XChange_2015_Recharge_Lounge3. Talk to everyone you can

Intronis didn’t have a booth in the exhibition hall this time, though. For XChange, we set up our Recharge Lounge outside one of the conference rooms. It gave people a place to stop and relax for a minute between sessions and charge up their phones and laptops, and it gave us more time to engage with Partners and prospects. We got really positive feedback from both Partners and prospects. People kept commenting on how much they liked it, and we even had a number of repeat visitors, which we loved.

One of my tasks at the lounge was scanning people’s badges so we could easily keep track of who we talked to and who stopped by the lounge. It was a kind of awkward conversation for me at first, but it got easier by the end of the conference. I realized that one reason it got easier was because I stopped thinking about it so much. At first, I was trying to figure out who someone was and if we’d need to follow up with them after the show before I asked to scan their badge. But I decided that I was making it harder than it needed to be and just started scanning everyone I could. After all, you never know which conversations will be important, so you might as well talk to as many people as you can. 

Looking forward

All in all, I had a great time at XChange. I really enjoyed getting to meet some of our current Partners face to face for the first time. And I learned so much watching Matt, Aaron, Ben, and Tim talk with Partners and prospects about Intronis and answer their questions. I’m working on improving my Intronis knowledge so I can engage with people even more and have more in-depth conversations at the next conference I go to. (And next time I’ll know that I should pack a little lighter!)

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