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4 Things I Learned from Not Being Able to Attend Trade Shows


Published on September 16, 2020

It’s no secret that trade shows are a staple in the medical device and packaging industry. They are a place where everyone comes together to learn about the newest technologies, innovations and best practices, and network with friends and colleagues. Typically, our global teams attend nearly 20 trade shows throughout the year. This year, as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve attended three. A drastic change for our team, business, and industry.

And while this has certainly provided its challenges, here are 4 things I’ve learned from not attending trade shows this year:

  1. Webinars don’t replace trade shows, but they are a great alternative.

Typically, at trade shows, the educational content is robust. Often, there are two or three full days with keynote speakers, technical workshops, and an expo floor with opportunities to learn. This year, what the industry lacked in education at trade shows was made up for in webinars. While webinars are not uncommon to the industry, the opportunity to attend webinars exploded with the cancellation of in-person trade shows. Webinars have been held on a variety of topics from design control best practices, to impacts of sterilization methods, to the science of sealing, and so much more. Webinars truly helped to fill the void of trade shows. While webinars certainly don’t replace the in-person networking, education, and experience you get at a trade show, they are a great substitute. (Another benefit is that webinars are recorded for you to watch at any time. Watch Oliver’s recorded webinars here.)

  1. Industry publications can keep you up to date.

There is nothing like walking the expo floor to learn about the newest technology and innovations. Thankfully, even without trade shows, we can continue to rely on publications, blogs, and online forums for constant information on the exciting things happening in the industry, despite trade shows. For updates on new technology, best practices, and advances in the healthcare industry, check out:

- MD+DI
- Packaging Digest
- Medical Design and Outsourcing
- Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP)
And you’re already reading my favorite, PackTalk! (Subscribe for more.)

  1. LinkedIn is a great place to discuss hot topics in real time.

One of the most exciting, and in my opinion, the biggest benefit of attending a trade show is discussing hot topics with fellow colleagues over coffee on the expo floor or while grabbing a beer during a welcome reception. While unfortunately neither of these have been possible this year, LinkedIn is a great tool for helping us stay in touch with colleagues and discussing hot topics in real time.

There are hundreds of articles posted on LinkedIn every day. Anything from articles that pertain to your industry to current events happening in your own backyard. LinkedIn uses these posts to curate a feed of short articles and posts just for you based on your interests. So, while we might not be able to discuss usability, seal strength requirements or the most recent ISO 11607 changes in-person, we can leverage LinkedIn.

(Shameless plug: Follow Oliver on LinkedIn.)

  1. Networking is necessary.

Sometimes it’s hard to justify the “need” for networking—it’s just drinks and conversation, right? But this year, more than ever, we need to find ways to connect. We’ve all spent months within the confines of our homes … working, living, and unable to travel. After being in this industry for over three years, there is one thing that I’ve found to be very apparent—this industry thrives on relationships. Although it can be difficult to step out of our newly found routines, networking should still be a priority to maintain the relationships we’ve all worked so hard to develop. Utilize virtual happy hours, schedule virtual coffee dates, or talk and walk to connect with an old colleague. Whatever it looks like for you, take the time to network.

Jill Straszheim
Senior Digital Marketing Specialist | Oliver Healthcare Packaging

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