Exhibit One: Lessons Learned from Exhibiting at a Networking Event

Charles Matthews, Architect

Setup at the Table Completed!

(updated 5.6.2014) This post describes some of the lessons I learned at a recent networking event, as well as some of the value of attending exhibitions like these.

Hindsight being what it is (20/20 so they say), I thought it would be a good idea to communicate some of the things that I have learned from the exhibits I have been a part of as I look to the next and final one for this year that I will be attending in Costa Mesa on May 15th.

Lessons Learned:

  1. Tried and True – The hotel facility people don’t necessarily know the information you need to have in order to make your setup work. In fact, they may actively have loosely combined policies that will inhibit your setup.An example was that when I was setting up my exhibit booth most recently, I was told that I couldn’t use a certain type of tape in order to hold my signage up. the hotel engineer who stopped me gave me the tape to use, and all was fine up until midway through the exhibit, my sign fell from the wall; the tape adhesive he provided wasn’t strong enough.His concern had originally been that the tape I was using would peel the color off of the wallpaper. Having originally hung the sign with the tape I had planned to use and peeled it off at his request, I saw that his concern was unfounded, and his solution was weak… it didn’t keep the sign adhered to the wall. And, when I went to peel his tape from my banner, it tore the banner. The tape I had been previously using didn’t tear my banner.The moral to this story is: if you have a way of doing things that works for you and your purposes, keep on following it. Don’t get distracted by an alleged product or service that is “new and innovative” if the thing you are trying to accomplish can be done using methods you are already familiar with… you don’t need to always reinvent the wheel.
  2. People Matter – A networking event is fundamentally about forming relationships with people. I truly enjoyed getting to talk with a variety of people and see how things are going in their lives: The Navy Seal wounded 2x purple heart who opened up a General Contracting Business and is thriving… the Architect who also went through the downturn and though hanging by a thread, is still surviving and using his skills to help the community pro bono, the general contractor who had never been asked by an architect what types of things he would like to see in the architectural drawing package in order to make the GC’s job easier – and on and on. “A warm handshake and a listening ear…” the counsel I got from my wife as far as what I should be doing at the event… and you know what, she was right. I would much rather be known for being kind and helping others than for getting a contract for the money only and neglect the human aspect of having relationships that are meaningful and helpful.
  3.  If you schmooze, you lose – Like I mentioned in the above listing, it’s all about the honesty and the integrity of the relationships that are formed… not the number of contacts or the relative importance of the contacts that you think you are making.Here’s a quick lesson that I learned a few years ago. It was around 2005, and I was looking for a dentist. When I went, he was telling me the story of how he was able to get Premium Event Seating for a Laker game. He explained that it wasn’t through ‘Ticketmaster’ or any other ticketing venue… it was through his General Contractor who had purchased a season of premium event seating and gave him the opportunity to go. Sometimes the most direct way of reaching a goal isn’t the most effective or efficient way of doing so. But, if I may add something, this type of opportunity isn’t sought for. Instead, it more or less lands on your lap.

    This story is relevant, not because of the GC in the story, but because of the unexpected nature that relationships can at times bring to the entire mix and the unintended blessings that come as a result of walking in integrity.


Come back after the 15th for any additional notes that I will list after the last exhibition.

Best regards,

Charles Matthews

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