When I launched my company and joined the stationery industry, one of the most pleasant surprises was how friendly, kind, and welcoming other members of the paper world have been to me. I guess I originally expected that people would be competitive and not willing to share their experiences navigating this industry, but I have found the exact opposite to be true.
Preparing to exhibit at NSS for the first time is an especially daunting adventure. One of my key pieces of advice in the months leading up to the show is to get to know others in the stationery world - vendors, retailers, and, of course, other designers.
- Be active on Twitter and use the site as a platform for networking with with others. Don't be afraid to respond to others' tweets, compliment designers on their work, and ask questions. #nss and #stationeryshow tend to be the most frequently used hashtags for organizing tweets around NSS. Twitter has been the first place I've met many paper friends!
- I participate in Tradeshow Bootcamp (read more about my experiences here) which has become an amazing support network comprised of other designers to share experiences, ask questions, and get feedback on problems you may be having.
- Don't hesitate to email designers directly about their experiences. Be sure to visit a designer's contact page to see if they have specific instructions for the best way to make contact. Keep your emails fairly succinct and don't worry if a designer doesn't respond right away. In my experience, I've found that many designers are more than willing to share their tips.
- Read blogs and comment on them! Just like I attempt to do here, there are many other designers who have blogged about their NSS experiences. One of the best ways to locate designers' posts about NSS is to check their blog archives. Usually between the months of March and June you'll find NSS-related posts.
- Find others in your own town that are planning to be at NSS! There's nothing like getting together face-to-face with other paper people who live in your city and bouncing ideas off one another.
The best part of all of this networking is when you get to meet each other in person at the show! It's one of the rare times when all of your paper friends are in one place at the same time.