Monday, May 10, 2010

Cozying up to the players

First posting in regards to my practicum.

My week was spent in Banff Alberta. I was at the Petroleum Safety Conference. I think this was a great introduction to my practicum: The first day, I was able to basically walk around and visit all the other displays at the trade show. My two 'bosses' were taking care of our booth, or going to the many different proceedings offered: discussions of new safety standards, management issues affecting safety, and more. I was given free reign, to explore. Boy oh boy! Do I have the SWAG (Stuff We All Get)
to show it. There was tonnes of goodies; some free samples for cleaning stuff, glo strips (which I attached to my friend K for safety's sake), a level/screwdriver/flashlight, a sweater, all sorts of stuff. Our company supplies awesome fabric and more to many awesome companies, so instead of giving out pieces of fabric, they gave out something which would connect with the people who were at the conference. This is apparently the 'fun' conference, the conference which gets business done after hours, and the morning after to show it. These are relaxed people who also come to have a good time, make some deals over dinner, and check out what everyone has going on at the trade show.

Enter the 'Tradeshow Survival Kit' a branded, pocket sized packet of goodies, free for everyone: hand sanitizer, painkillers, antacid, band-aids, and finger protectors (insert slightly inappropriate joke here). The truth is this: the many suppliers my practicum site uses are present at this show, but are already working and communicating with our site on a regular basis. All the manufacturers who use this business as a supplier were also at the conference, showing their wares, and again, communicate with us regularly. The importance of this conference is brand recognition, having people who purchase from all the manufacturers knowing and equating our company with quality product. They (We?) are there just to be recognized and be present.

I visited and talked to all the different competitors and partners. Most people were super friendly. Some competitors saw my company name and weren't very nice. Some manufacturers were missing information, stuff which I would think was key :
Me: Why would i choose you as a safety clothing provider
Them: Why wouldn't you? (nervous laughter) Uh... I guess we focus on service
Me: (in brain) Wow. That was a terrible answer. If service is what you offer, sell me that, don't just say "why not"... because my thought is "because I want the best, I don't want to catch on fire."

Later in the conference I got to work the booth, handing out our fabulous nifty gifties, I got to lunch with my main practicum coordinator, and unfortunately, turned down a fabulous dinner invitation because of my dietary restrictions (it was an evening meeting at a fondue place. I basically would have been eating a piece of meat...)

The best part of this was the informal conversation I got to have with my practicum overseers. There was no formal organization of my participation, and we had lots of time to chat when the booth was slow. I think it overcame a lot of the usual awkwardness a person encounters in a new situation, before the real work begins. Monday, (aka today I guess) I will show up and already have a rapport with the bosses! Horray!

I camped with my husband and besty for the week, we had an awesome time, I had a rough time keeping my work clothes from smelling like campfire, but other than that it was amazing.

Boy have I missed blogging! Pictures to come!

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