Minisode 001: Navigating Market (And Other Industry Events) As An E-Designer
A sentiment I’ve heard shared across lots of designers — online designers and even some new designers — is that events like Las Vegas Market, High Point Market, KBIS, and Design Influencers (formerly Bloggers) Conference isn’t for them.
And I’ll be the first to admit, prior to actually going to High Point for myself, I thought the same — “e-designers don’t go to market” and “maybe when I’ve been in business longer I’ll need it” — and while there are tons of industry events I’m still unfamiliar with, after actually experiencing market for myself, I can totes say I was wrong bc there’s something for every designer, every stage of business, every business model.
So on today’s “minisode” I’m gonna dig into what it’s like as an online designer & creator going to industry events. And while I may make mention of very specific events, I want to you keep an open mind and think about how you can apply what I’m saying to ANY industry event you attend in the future.
Going to High Point, I got a chance to really immerse myself in the industry experience — attending seminars, hosting events, and connecting with friends & colleagues — all from the lens of an e-designer and content creator at market.
So many of the messages we get as it relates to these types of events will have you feeling that maybe it is for the more traditional and/or seasoned designer, but with the assortment of talks, events, and tours, there’s literally a little bit of something for everyone.
But there’s a catch — you’ll only know what’s there for you if you go in with a plan — what do you hope to get out of your event experience?
When this goes live, Dallas Market will have passed, Las Vegas will be underway, both KBIS & the Design Influencers Conference about a month away, and High Point Market shortly after that — and I’ve only just scratched the service when it comes to industry happenings.
Attending all (first of all) probably won’t be necessary, depending on you and your business.
Secondly, the flights, hotels, and rentals add of pretty quickly, so if you’re not 100% clear on how this’ll benefit you, you’ll be wasting time & money just going for going sake.
The value is in having a clear directive, but alongside that, understand the event’s purpose as well.
Designers (and other design adjacent professionals) go for a myriad of reasons — from buying product to earning CEU — so having a few clear objectives will definitely help you quiet the noise of anything that doesn’t align with those objectives.
So let’s say your goal is to network with brands & vendors to help propel the e-commerce leg of your business. An event like KBIS tells you in the name what you’re walking into — kitchen & bath industry show. If you don’t design, much less handle product, for kitchens & baths, it’s safe to say you have no business attending this event.
Personally, when it came to High Point, had I not known what I wanted it to do for my business, I would’ve been immediately swept away with overwhelm; but because I planned, I didn’t have to worry about FOMO or shiny object distractions. I also knew that High Point was a better fit for what I wanted to do.
Do I have to sometimes pass up on other events that I know will serve me — abso-freaking-lutely! These trips, unless sponsored, are NOT cheap. And even sponsored, that’s time away from family that you can’t get back. For me it also means moving around my husband & daughter’s schedules, so I have to be intentional as heck.
Thankfully, as an e-designer, I have the freedom & flexibility to pick up and take my business anywhere, but that also means there’s a lot of noise that can get in the way of actual progress. So in addition to having clear objectives for why you’re attending these events, you want to have a clear plan of attack for when you get there.
Are you attending seminars to learn?
Are you attending events to network?
Are you touring showrooms & meeting with vendors?
What got you on that plane or in your car, and what do you hope to bring back once it’s all done?
Because if your business doesn’t change and/or move even a step when you come back from whatever market you attending — orders are now placed for clients, new product is available in your shop, your network of valuable contacts has expanded…SOMETHING — you might want to reevaluate if that was time (and money) well spent.
Go. Get inspired. Take action.
But don’t just stop at the “go”.
Be agile, of course, and open to new ideas that these events may spark, but understanding where you are, right now, in business, and understanding what your 1 year, 3 year, 10 year goals are going to make such a huge difference.
As someone who operates exclusively online for projects & content, it was amazing getting to engage with more “traditional” designers and even more amazing explaining my business model & goals to vendors & designers. It was like, wait, you do what?! That’s so cool! There was no shame or judgement, but instead an eagerness to find out more. And as someone who is constantly learning & evolving, this was an amazing reception.
By being open to new ideas but also more than willing to share my ideas, still with the key objectives in mind, the entire experience was for me at High Point was a success, and that’s what I want for you anytime you attend an industry event.
There’s a place for every kind of designer.
So I challenge you to take advantage of this new landscape and see it for what it is — and opportunity to create more connections and opportunities.
What events will you be attending this year? Which ones did you pass up on & why? Are there events that you’d love to attend but it’s not the right time for you? And what are you event goals?
I wanna know!
I hope you’ll subscribe join me every week, and if you haven’t already, be sure to let me know what you think with with a rating & review, and share the show with your design bestie, so we can all hang out.
Talk to you soon!