Yesterday I visited one of the biggest trade fairs in Azerbaijan – BakuBuild 2012. Due to construction boom in the country this event attracts every year more and more participants. Exhibitors covered different areas of Building & Construction sector: flooring, roofing, finishing materials, doors, tiles, furniture, etc.
One can ask: ” Is it necessary for an interior designer to attend every professional trade fair and exhibition?”. The answer will be “yes, it is”. And here are several reasons why:
1) to educate yourself about new products and materials
2) stay updated with current and emerging trends in the industry
3) to meet key suppliers and set up relationship with them
4) promote yourself and your company
5) get expert advice on specific products
6) get brochures and samples of the materials
Now what about Interior Design students? For them visiting professional exhibitions is also obligatory. First of all it is a unique opportunity to test your knowledge and communication skills. Secondly you can establish links with suppliers so by the end of your studies you will already have a comprehensive list of them and you may just start working.
They also might agree on giving you free samples for your projects. Many companies, especially those who work B2B with interior designers, understand that today students will become their potential partners in the future. Yesterday many companies invited me to visit their showrooms where they promised to give me some free samples (at the moment I am looking for flooring materials and wall finishing for my second project with KLC). When I was looking for fabric samples for the same project I went to New Line company, one of the biggest fabric suppliers in Moscow. I visited their beautiful show-room where I found a huge amount of different fabrics. The staff was very welcoming and helpful. They knew about KLC and what kind of projects we do. As a result I received a bunch of free samples, their business cards and a warm invitation to come in the future.
I must say that BakuBuild exhibition was very productive for me. I returned home with huge amount of brochures and materials samples.
Working as Sales & Marketing Manager before I learned the following lesson about participation in trade fairs and exhibitions: “Do your homework“. Many companies focus so much on participating/visiting fact itself that they forget that the most important work starts right after the event.
When an exhibition is over I recommend to do the following things:
1) sort out all the informational booklets, business cards, brochures and samples collected during event, select those which you really need, get rid of unnecessary materials
2) read the brochures, visit companies websites, learn about their products
3) update your suppliers contact book
4) visit suppliers in their offices/ showrooms: remember good relationship with suppliers is essential for every interior designer.