If you’re connected to the jewelry industry in any way, you know that it’s nearly Las Vegas jewelry week: our annual Sin City extravaganza of top-shelf trade shows.
There’s nothing like the Vegas trade shows: ballrooms bursting with countless cases of treasures waiting to be touched. These trade shows are closed to the public and it’s an honor to be invited as a member of the press. It’s an incredible week…and it’s also really intense.
An introvert’s guide to surviving trade shows.
I love people, but I’m an introvert at heart. Every interaction with a stranger – even a delightful stranger with jewelry – takes a little something out of me. (This stock photo lady knows how I feel.)
The Vegas trade shows are the biggest marathon the jewelry world has to offer: 5 consecutive days of constant events, from breakfast meetings to private penthouse afterparties. If you’re like me, it’s really easy to burn yourself out.
But don’t worry! I’ve become an expert at attending trade shows while anxious. Here are some of my top tips for not just surviving, but thriving.
Schedule recovery time.
Figure out what recharges you, block out time for it on your calendar, and then defend that time to the death. You’re not free that night, you have an iron-clad appointment with yourself.
I’m a big fan of baths, so I travel with individually packaged Epsom salt packets. 20 mins alone with one of these in a tub of hot water and I’m a new woman.
If music makes you feel better, prepare a playlist and hit play whenever you’re in your hotel room. If you respond strongly to scent, pack your essential oils. If you’re a yogi, get up 10 minutes early and have a mini-practice. If one-on-one connection is what soothes you, schedule solo dinner with your bestie.
In addition to being an introvert at heart, I personally struggle with anxiety and also sometimes depression. Self-care is important for anyone, but vital for those of us who already have Extra Stuff going on. I can push myself if I need to, but I’ll pay for it afterwards.
When I was in Tucson earlier in the year, I went to happy hours, dinners, and evening events, including the epic AGTA Spectrum Gala. I also picked one night that week to go back to my hotel room alone, order takeout, and go to sleep at 9. That night made all of the others possible.
Remember: you’re not missing out, you’re protecting yourself from burnout. It’s strength, not weakness.
Take care of your body.
When you’re running on the hamster wheel of trade shows, it’s really easy to let basic physical self-care fall through the cracks.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve skipped lunch during trade shows, or only paused for a snack because my hands were shaking from low blood sugar. Don’t do this. It’s terrible for you and easy to avoid. If you don’t feel like you can make time for lunch, pack a box of granola bars and have one on you at all times.
And DRINK WATER. It’s an unspoken law that all trade shows take place in overly air conditioned hotels, and Vegas is literally a desert. You’ll be offered coffee or alcohol at every event. Give your poor body some actual h20 and you’ll feel a million times better.
I recommend this tiny water bottle as an eco-friendly and convenient way to hydrate at trade shows. Yes, it’ll make your purse heavier, but it’s worth it.
Have an elevator pitch.
An elevator pitch is a concise 20-30 second spiel (the length of an elevator ride) that explains who you are and what you want. When you’re walking the trade shows, it’s entirely plausible that you’ll end up introducing yourself 50+ times a day. Plan in advance how you want to do this and you’ll make your life much easier.
I’m not saying you need to write a speech and memorize it; but it will help if you can figure out your intro to the point that it’s an autopilot response rather than something you have to think about repeatedly.
Example: “Hi! My name is Becky and I’m a blogger doing a story about the show. You have some beautiful designs here – may I take photos for social media coverage?”
Don’t feel bad about saying no.
I feel you, my fellow sensitive unicorns. It sucks to feel like you’re disappointing people, especially if they’re people you like or people you want to do business with.
I promise that it’s okay to say no to the appointments, breakfasts, dinners, and “grabbing a coffee.” You need to take care of yourself, or you won’t be in any condition to interact with anyone. Everyone at the trade shows is just as busy as you are and you won’t ruin anyone’s life if you turn down meeting with them.
Trade shows are exhilarating and it’s hard not to get caught up in the excitement. If you make an effort to anchor yourself and take it all in a little more serenely, you’ll enjoy everything more.
While I was dealing with my heart thing earlier this year, I also developed an issue with panic attacks. As a result, I now have an arsenal of mediation/breathing/relaxation apps on my phone, all with the express purpose of calming me the eff down in a hurry.
You don’t have to be having a panic attack to benefit from relaxation apps. They’re a great way to gain some mental space or keep yourself grounded, even if you’re already feeling good. I personally recommend Calm; it comes with a guided breathing function that I love (the “Breathe bubble”), as well as a library of meditations and soothing bedtime stories perfect for an anxious insomniac like me.
Jewelry trade shows are an incredible experience. Don’t forget to stop and smell the rose gold: pause to appreciate the remarkable experience you’re immersed in, even if you’ve been before and you know you’ll go again.
If you take care of yourself and remember to enjoy the glorious chaos, you’ll be in great shape to relax and embrace what’s happening while you’re still there. That’s my plan, anyway!
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Thank you so much for this!! I will be going to the show for the first time this year- and going alone- As excited as I am it is also pretty daunting! I’m going to re-read this a few more times to get ready for sure…this is perfect!
Aw yay I’m so glad it’s helpful! And don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll do great! The shows are big but they’re also awesome to experience. I know you can do it!!
Such great advice! I’m an introvert and exhibiting at trade shows is very draining for me. I have to schedule alone time to recharge!
Taking time to recharge so important – especially when you need to be able to speak to people coherently day after day!!
Such great advice! And so applicable to a number of life events. As a fellow introvert with anxiety/depression issues, I can totally relate.
Thanks so much, Lydia! Yep – definitely applicable to all kinds of situations. It’s always good to take the time to take care of yourself.
All great advice that I will use for my next conference (which are like watching paint dry compared to a jewelry trade show). I can’t wait to see your coverage!
Haha I’m sorry you’re not expecting your conference to be thrilling, but I hope it goes well!! Thanks for reading and commenting.