Last week, I attended the International Builders’ Show (IBS) in Las Vegas. The Builders’ Show is part of Design & Construction Week™ – co-located with the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS), the International Window Coverings Expo, Las Vegas Market and The International Surface Event. All shows are centered around the construction, home improvement and design industries.
The entire experience was nothing shy of amazing!
Shortly after I arrived on Sunday, my work-week began, as I was also freelancing for the IBS Marketing Department, a client I’ve had for a number of years. Since I am a national member of the NAHB Professional Women in Building (PWB) Council, I had a meeting to attend that afternoon.
Between freelancing and PWB obligations, I knew my Show-card would be full for the week (and it was). Here are some takeaways from the Builders’ Show that I’d like to share with you:
Builders’ Show Takeaway #1: Freelancing for IBS Was a Blast! I was a part of the @IntlBuildersShow team on Instagram and used hashtags #IBSVegas, #KBIS2015 and #DCW2015 as much as possible throughout the Show. I admit, I was a bit nervous to take on this responsibility because it meant that if I screwed up, a lot of eyeballs would see it. But I didn’t screw up. In fact, the IBS team made it a point to tell me a few times how much they liked what I was doing and how glad they were that I was helping. In freelancing, compliments like these are gold!
I walked the Builders’ Show in between meetings and educational sessions, and took photos and made notes of interesting items I saw. I used Instagram to tell a story and remind followers of the resources available and events happening at the Show. I expanded my social media presence by using other hashtags and linked sponsors to the Design & Construction Week Concept Kitchen, one of my main assignments to cover during the Show. With nearly every picture I posted (and I posted several each day), I’d see an increase in likes and followers, so I knew I was helping to grow the IBS reach significantly.
As a construction writer, one of the coolest things is for an industry expert to take me on a tour of his/her work, which is exactly what Jonas Carnemark, CKD, the designer of the Design & Construction Week Concept Kitchen, did. He gave me a behind-the-scenes tour of the kitchen he created, sharing the thoughts that went into the showcase kitchen. I used that information to write articles for the official IBS blog.
This gig was more fun than I’d imagined, and I hope I can be involved next year.
Builders’ Show Takeaway #2. Get (or Stay) Involved in a Council. The PWB awarded me a travel grant to help offset some of my expenses to attend the Builders’ Show. The catch was, I had six events to attend in order to receive the grant.
While I didn’t think that my requirements to receive my travel grant were going to be terrible, I have to say that as I was pulling together my itinerary before the Show, I was a bit disappointed at all the things I thought I was going to miss. As it turns out, I would have missed WAY more if I had not attended all of the PWB events.
One of the hardest parts about attending a Show of this magnitude is knowing very few people. But in the course of a few days, I met some smart ladies from around the country – simply by attending meetings, volunteering at the PWB Show Headquarters and attending events. Each activity reinforced my desire to become even more involved in the PWB and figure out a way to get to more in-person meetings. The connections you make and the information you learn in councils are extremely beneficial to your business.
Builders’ Show Takeaway #3: Nothing Beats Walking the Show with a Client or Colleague. I had the opportunity to meet Scott and Lorrie Hochuli of Hochuli Design and Remodeling Team (Scottsdale, AZ). They are a fairly new client of mine and when I found out they’d also be attending the Show, I suggested that I walk the Show floor with them so we could get to know each other.
In the hour or so that we were together on the floor, I got to see, through their eyes, the new products, design trends and even some duds (“It’s neat but just not practical.”). I was introduced to a few of their preferred vendors, and even heard some of their struggles (with product shipment) and possible solutions they are considering. I can guarantee that none of these conversations would have occurred during our regularly scheduled calls to talk about content.
Speaking of content, I was able to suggest future article ideas “on the fly” as we saw different applications of products. Again, these ideas wouldn’t have manifested had we not been walking the Show floor together.
I am so thankful that Scott, Lorrie and I made the effort to meet in this fashion (and it was an effort to find each other, just ask them). I gained an entirely new appreciation for their craft which will only help me write more effective and powerful content to help grow their business.
Builders’ Show Takeaway #4: There Is Still Much Value in Old-School Face-to-Face Meetings. While in Vegas, I also had the opportunity to meet, for the first time, client Dan Meade of Prime 1 Builders (Pittsburgh, PA). After a few failed attempts, he and I finally were able to find a time to meet at Remodelers Central (a hidden gem of the Show).
While we’ve had several conversations since beginning our work together, there is something about talking shop over a cup of coffee. I got to hear, first hand, of his plans for 2015 and why they are important, and he got to learn more about what I do (“I get the impression you are more than just a writer. Am I right?”). As the conversation progressed, I was able to offer tips and suggestions, and by the end of the meeting, we both had a few notes about each other’s business to help us work together in a more streamlined fashion.
Builders’ Show Takeaway #5: Education Sessions at the Show are Top-Notch. One of the primary reasons I wanted to attend IBS was because of the education sessions, and they didn’t disappoint. Some of leading experts in the construction industry speak at Design & Construction Week, so I wanted to fit as many as I could into my schedule.
Additionally, I found the speaker-events throughout the three-day Show to be amazing. My friends, Mark and Theresa at MyFixItUpLife, appeared many times at various exhibitor booths, and IBS Live also held numerous sessions each day. Roundtables were held within the six Centrals, and HGTV celebrity appearances and demonstrations could be found at many exhibitor booths. A client even told me how he got one-on-one time with Houzz at their booth. During that time, Houzz shared with him valuable tips to help him use their platform even more effectively to promote his business.
There is never enough time to attend it all at the Builders’ Show, so I am looking forward to tapping into the IBS Online Library when it becomes available, which will give me access to the over 100 education sessions that took place during the Show.