Hello, Old Friend

The show is almost upon us—IMTS 2014. As usual, this time every 2 years I feel the adrenalin starting to flow and the excitement building.

The show is almost upon us—IMTS 2014. As usual, this time every 2 years I feel the adrenalin starting to flow and the excitement building. Part of me questions, “Why do I look forward to this show so much?” After all, it’s exhausting and a lot of work. On my feet for most of each day, I have miles of aisles to walk (sometimes run) as I go from one appointment to the next, and dinners often carry on late into the evenings. In fact, not only are the activities at the show itself a lot of work; here at the magazine, we’ve been preparing for it for months. I’m sure the suppliers who will be displaying their products at the show feel the same, as they most likely have been planning their booths since the last IMTS.

IMTS is like an old friend—in my case, one who I have known for 26 years (more than half my life). It’s a friend with whom I visit for almost an entire week at a time, but then don’t see for another 2 years. But my anticipation and excitement about the upcoming events go deeper than only personifying the show itself and my psychological connection with it.

The strong emotional draw for me exists because of the long list of people I’ve met through the years in the business who I will get to see once again in September. Many of these people I run into at other functions, or communicate with by phone or email throughout the year, but many I haven’t had any contact with since the last show. But that doesn’t mean our relationship is any worse for wear. In fact, it’s become a bit of an expected routine with some of my connections that we’ll meet at their booth, or for lunch, or for drinks in the evening during the show. We’ll discuss business, new products, and developments within their company, but we’ll also talk about family, hobbies and how life has been going for the past 2 years. It’s what old friends do. We pick up where we left off and fill in the gaps to the point where it’s as if time and distance have never come between us. Then we’ll part ways and look forward to the next time.

These friendships had to start somewhere, and for many of them, it was right there on the show floor. An equally valuable part of attending the show is the opportunity to meet new people. That’s the main objective for many of the show’s attendees, although not so much with the intention of friendship. They go to Chicago to check out the new technology, perhaps with a goal to purchase additional equipment or accessories for their shops. During this process, new relationships are often formed. Whether a transaction takes place or not, business discussions create the opportunity to see the potential for one person, or company, to help another. The relationships are then nurtured through time by staying in touch, even if it’s only every 2 years at IMTS.

As a journalist, obviously I’m not at the show to make purchases. My relationships there are also mutually beneficial, though, as we find ways to improve our business. I get to talk to experts about technology, learning more about what our readers need to know. And I, in turn, am able share information about these exhibitors’ products and help to increase their visibility. That’s great and all; it’s pretty cool that I can play a part in promoting such an important industry, and it’s all part of my job. I guess it’s not, however, what gets me really pumped up about the upcoming events.

More than anything, I’m looking forward to seeing the faces of those who I have gotten to know through the years and adding more to my ever increasing list of friends in the industry. We really have a great group of people with whom to work, and with so many of them in one place at IMTS, I should not have to question my own growing excitement.