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Growing up, I always remember my dad attending trade shows for the different companies he worked for. Now, he was an engineer, so I always assumed they were pretty boring (sorry, Dad!). It didn’t matter if he came home with all the trade show cool swag like pens, pencils, reusable bags, hats, or stress balls (to a kid, those things are like gold). Several years later, I have learned that trade shows, aviation ones of course, are tons of fun and the opportunities to network and learn are endless! This post will cover a few that I have had the chance to personally attend as well.
What summer would be complete without a trip to Oshkosh, WI for the Experimental Aviation Association (EAA) Air Venture? I know, people don’t really think of it as a trade show, but have you really looked around when you’ve been there?
Icon is giving demos of their recreational aircraft (you can fish from it!), Cirrus is writing up orders for their new jet, and general aviation is absolutely thriving during this aviation extravaganza. Hundreds of companies tote their wares all week in the hope they will meet new customers, see their current customers, and really just get their name out there. 9am-5pm are the show hours, but networking goes on for hours after the show is closed.
Companies like Cirrus, Piper, Pilatus, Kodiak, and many other woo their customers and new clients with cookouts, dinners, and more. New products get shown over dinner and deals get sealed by the time the dessert menu gets passed around. Additionally, this “trade show” features class acts from aerobatics pilots, showcases military aircraft from every era of aviation, in addition to the biggest pyrotechnic show you’ll ever see at an airport (actually, it’s probably the only one at an airport).
I love going to Oshkosh when I have the chance and even if you aren’t working with a company, it’s a great place to network. Just sitting at lunch one day this summer, I met a pilot who flies for SkyWest – now, tell me that Air Venture isn’t the most fun you’ll ever have at a “trade show”.
National Business Aviation Association (NBAA)
The second trade show I’ve had the opportunity to attend is that of the NBAA Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (BACE) in Las Vegas in November 2015. This particular trade show caters to any type of business with a corporate flight department in the United Sates and all over the world.
I had the opportunity to attend last fall with a group from the University of North Dakota (UND). Since we were students attending, we got a huge break in the conference fee and by that I mean it was so affordable even for a poor, college student! All we had to do was take care of meals, flights, and lodging. I found some fellow students from Purdue University who were members of Women in Corporate Aviation which proved to be a great networking opportunity in and of itself.
Additionally, there were many universities that had their own booths at BACE including any company you could possibly think of. I actually sat on one of the shuttle buses with a gentleman from Italy who worked for Pilatus – I told you it was a worldwide affair! I also had the chance to meet those from other companies at the different booths in addition to after-hours functions. A fun memory was going to the Las Vegas Executive Airport and looking at all of the static aircraft displays. Gulfstream had many different aircraft on display, which is one of my favorite business jet manufacturers.
Lastly, NBAA BACE was a great way to faces to names. I actually got to meet the owners of Globalair.com and those that had given me the blogging scholarship that year. If I wasn’t so busy with classes, I’d be back this year promoting the scholarship!
Why Trade Shows?
You’re probably sitting there wondering why you should go to trade shows in general. Besides the FUN aspect of trade shows, it’s important to continue to network even though you might currently be a student, or even if you are well into your career.
Last year, I had a professor that really pushed students to attend NBAA and to network in general. In fact, many of my professors, including my adviser, always push students to get their names out there. It doesn’t matter if it’s introducing yourself to a guest lecturer, meeting alumni, or attending trade shows. I guess what I’m getting at here is that you never know what’s around the corner and growing your professional network only builds your contact list in addition to the possible jobs that could arise from it.
Plus, going to these events is a great way to catch up with alumi! I love running into people I know at these events – it makes the event that much more memorable and we get to talk about aviation (I mean, who doesn’t?).
Remember, NBAA BACE is just around the corner!
November 1-3, 2016 – Orlando, FL
Visit the Globalair.com booth – Booth 4936!