Twice a year the Craft and Hobby Association (CHA) holds a trade show. I first attended CHA in the winter of 2005 when it was held in Atlanta. I attended as a buyer, as an employee of a local store. I only attended one day, and the experience was exhausting. I remember seeing lots of new product, picking up catalogs, giving feedback to my store’s owner, and doing a few make & takes.
Each time CHA comes around, professionals in the industry have to decide whether they want to attend or not. This is a big decision, because it may be very expensive to attend (depending on needs for expenses like travel, child care, etc). Not attending, though, may cost a business customers or opportunities. It can feel difficult to accurately gauge how valuable attending is for your business.
While considering whether to attend CHA, you’re probably thinking about immediate, practical things like:
- Do I have the time?
- Do I have the financial resources to travel and attend the show?
- Do I have the financial resources to travel and rent a booth at the show (if you are a manufacturer or supplier)?
- Can other people cover my responsibilities while I am away?
Why should a professional attend a trade show?
- Networking. Conferences and trade shows are an excellent way to network. I do a lot of networking online, but it still can’t replace in-person networking. Attending CHA is a chance to do some in-person networking with people you are already networking with online, or even to network with completely new people.
- Reinvigorating yourself. I try to attend my full-time profession’s annual conference each year. Each time I go I feel reinvigorated towards my profession. If I get nothing else out of attending, I get reinvigorated mentally, and this is worth it to me.
- Staying on top of trends. It is much easier to stay on top of trends thanks to the Internet, but we are often rather selective as to what we see online. We follow the same blogs, listen to to the same podcasts, and so on. Attending the show increases the likelihood that you will stumble upon something really cutting edge that you might otherwise miss.
- Bringing back new ideas to your customers & staff ( or readers, or whoever your stakeholders are). You have a lot of people looking at you for new ideas. You don’t need to attend CHA to get new ideas, but it certainly is an efficient way to get them.
Do you attend CHA? What kind of business do you run (e.g., manufacturer, designer, store owner)? Do you think attending CHA is worthwhile? What suggestions do you have for others to make attending more affordable?