Ok, I’m a little bit ashamed to admit this, but before The Sleeter Group Accounting Solutions Conference this week, I had never been to a trade show, conference or convention. Maybe if I were a big sci-fi fan, things would be different and I’d have a couple of Comic-Cons under my belt at least, but c’est le vie.
Naturally, my first conference experience was a trial by fire. Upon finding the hotel, hauling a bunch of show equipment out of my car, and scrambling to check-in (sans cash for the bellhop, sigh), I was immediately due in a grand ballroom to capture the moment in case BQE won the 2013 Sleeter Group Awesome Application Award it was nominated for.
I was ready! I was armed with a fabulous Nikon, fit for a real photographer. I had a literal pile of tech devices. There was nothing stuck in my teeth. Yep, I was ready.
I snagged a seat in the front row, and scrambled to get pictures of Shafat Qazi, CEO and Founder of BQE Software, during this moment in the sun. And I, using that wonderful, expensive camera, took this brilliant shot:
And this one:
I sat down to re-evaluate my strategy. Bob, our Sales Manager, whispered: “Please get some good pictures for once, ours are always so blurry!” Ahh, well then.
I’d already interrupted important people in the middle of important conversations to build a cache of hideous, unusable photos. My vision of how the day would go, as well as the fancy Nikon, were swiftly abandoned. Luckily for me, I had a back-up camera—one I bought for myself. Knowing who would be using it, I got the absolute idiot-proof model. Armed with my low-tech photog gear, I got Shafat’s attention again and thankfully got pictures that don’t look like the inside of a cataract.
Moments later, Shafat accepted the award, and before running off to a presentation, had to hand the gorgeous trophy off to someone.
A fun bit of history: when I was a kid, my dad won a glass plaque. My mom dropped it. It shattered, and the glory of showing off the plaque was replaced by trying to accurately describe what it used to look like. As Shafat passed the trophy into my hands, I tried unsuccessfully not to think of that. The terror that went along with carrying the award can’t even be conveyed. Just look at my death grip on it in the top photo here.
Later, seeing me empty-handed, Shafat asked what I did with the trophy. I tried to sound nonchalant and natural as I told him that I put it on the nightstand in my room, like that was the only logical place for a company trophy to end up.
Tiki Huts Done Wrong
Next, I got to learn how to assemble our booth, which consisted of a cute tiki hut, with a large backdrop behind it. If I thought I was a bad photographer, I was about to learn I’m an awful booth-constructor. Actually, I guess it was really my packing job that was sub-par. I remembered things like pens and candy, but forgot things like the screws to hold the tiki hut together, and extension cords to power the computer that was vital to our presentation. The look on my booth-building partner’s face as he put our little tiki hut together with zip ties? Priceless!
But you know, after all that, when we were finally able to relax and mingle with the other guests, it was a blast! It was great getting to engage with our users face-to-face. Everyone was friendly and fun, and I learned a lot. I enjoyed it enough to already look into next year’s convention, which is apparently going to be at Caesar’s Palace in Vegas! Hope to see a lot of familiar faces next year!