I attended the 2014 NMSDC Conference and Business Opportunity Fair last month and wanted to share a particular experience I had with all of you. It caught me a little by surprise at how important it turned out to be, and how simple it could have been to miss the chance to turn a negative into a real positive.
It’s something we’re taught from the time we’re children: if life gives you lemons, make lemonade; look at the glass as half full, not half empty. In theory, it sounds good, but in practice it can be harder to achieve. Well I was reminded big time why it’s worth trying your hardest to make the best of a bad situation when I checked in to the conference. There was a major computer glitch on Sunday that caused the registration process to have to be done manually. These things happen and the conference personnel did a good job of finding alternative solutions as quickly as they could.
Still, there was a long – a very long – wait in line. Business travel can be challenging and delays like that one very frustrating. It’s tempting to let your emotions get away but I didn’t, and mostly no one else did either, although there were some frayed tempers. At a time like this many people retreat to their phone or tablet, put the earbuds back in, or pull out a book. All good options for keeping your cool and passing the time but a missed opportunity to start your conference off on the best foot.
First I started talking with a gentleman in line with me. He turned out to be in procurement at an American multinational medical devices, pharmaceutical and consumer packaged goods manufacturer. After they arranged us alphabetically, I started talking with another woman. First it was simply comparing notes on what we’d heard about the delays but it soon turned to where we were from and worked, what we were doing at the conference, and then on to general topics. Before I knew it, that sense of frustration was gone and we were having a nice conversation. Others standing nearby joined in at times too. Suddenly, an hour long wait was a pleasant experience and I had made several new friends, or if you prefer, business contacts!
Isn’t that the reason we attend conferences and industry events? To network and meet new people? Of course we’re there for the formal opportunities to meet: ATR had a booth and I spent my day visiting the other booths during the trade fair, as well as attending the workshops, keynote speeches, receptions, and other conference events. But this unexpected opportunity to meet people was different. We ended up making a personal connection because of shared experience that was different than exchanging contact and company info at a booth. As I continued to see these folks throughout the conference the conversation continued, and our relationship deepened a little more. I know for sure that at least a couple of us will absolutely stay in touch.
You can’t manufacture these kinds of opportunities: I certainly don’t condone hacking into computer systems to cause delays or any other shenanigans! You can only be ready to take advantage of what the world offers us. We usually think of that in terms of good things happening – be ready to go after that promotion or benefit from paid training. But when something bad happens it may not be as easy to see the chance for something good but try to. It worked for me!
Corporate Outreach Manager