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Insights on Pittcon 2023, tradeshows and new jobs from a brand new sales associate

Traveling for work can be intimidating. Especially for a young sales associate at a new job. But that is the thing about facing intimidating tasks. It forces you out of your comfort zone and creates the perfect opportunity for growth. Pittcon 2023 in Philadelphia is the perfect example of this. Going into it I felt like I was walking onto another planet. Thankfully there are a few things that helped me get my footing and that allowed me to grow personally and professionally.  

Lessons Learned

First Things First

First things first, let’s talk about food. During my time at Pittcon I had some of the best and worst food in my life. My first tip would be to avoid chain restaurants and support local restaurants. I had great experiences at Reading Terminal Market and City Winery.

Never Underestimate the Impact of Ratchet Straps & Duct Tape

The tradeshow itself was the daunting part of it all as I didn’t know what to expect. Thankfully, we had a plan set in place and a fairly strict itinerary for time spent at the show. We arrived early to ensure that we had enough time to set up our booth and thank goodness we did – talk about catastrophe! We were missing very integral pieces to the frame that would allow us to stand the booth up without it completely falling apart. This was a great learning experience for me, and I would even argue that it was a good team building exercise (unplanned of course). It took us almost two full hours to set up a booth that usually takes us twenty minutes. Thanks to ratchet straps, duct tape, and a little creativity we made it work. This contributed more to the personal growth side of things. I was given many opportunities to be patient, understanding, and to be a problem solver. After the booth was up, our whole team felt so accomplished for the hard work that was put in to make it happen. Thankfully the next day was better!

Stay Open Minded and Learn New Things

I think that trying new things and keeping an open mind is critical, especially when visiting a new city. Pittcon 2023 was extremely busy and there were so many people coming to our booth. I didn’t have a chance to think so I just jumped right in and started talking to people. By the end of the first day, I felt comfortable talking to new people and answering any questions that I could. On day two and three I had no problem talking to every person that walked past our booth. I learned a lot in the three days we spent at the trade show. One of them being how to attract people to your booth. While walking through the show with my colleague, Joe, we had noticed that after walking through five rows and past about 100 booths only two people even said hello to us. Some people would actively turn or look away from us. This made a lightbulb go off for us. We realized that just by extending a simple “hello” it would attract anyone walking by, even if they had no use for our products or services. I also noticed that with saying hi to everyone, even if a person had walked away, they would generally turn around to come and talk to us.  This taught me that you just have to put yourself out there and it doesn’t matter if one person ignores you because the majority will listen. Whether you find yourself in this situation at work, with your family, or in the dating world, rejection can be constant. The tradeshow is a great place to learn that you can’t let one rejection limit future opportunities for yourself in your personal and professional life. 

With that being said we weren’t bored very often. When we had down time, Joe and I would capture content for our Tradeshow Survival Guide (stay tuned). Not only was that an easy way to fight boredom but it was a great team building opportunity and a lot of fun. Filming content was one of my favorite parts of the trip. Another favorite was the huge St. Bernard named Teddy that we saw everywhere at the most unexpected times. When I say everywhere, I mean EVERYWHERE.

Aside from cute fluffy pups, another highlight of the trip was the photo booths and professional headshots that were available. It is the best of both worlds if you think about it. You can get the perfect headshot for your LinkedIn profile picture and still get some goofy pictures with your favorite co-workers.

Karlie Putt & Joe Bragg at Pittcon 2023

Final Thoughts

While this was an amazing trip, there are a few things that we could have done differently. Unfortunately, we forgot to bring a microphone to use while filming our content, which is definitely a mistake that I personally will not make again. I also wish that I had given myself more time to relax and unwind after the show.  

Although I wouldn’t trade the memories that I made while staying busy after the show, it was still stressful to always be doing something. It is okay to make mistakes especially when you are in a situation that you have never been in before. If you can reflect back on them, identify what you would do differently, and put action in place to prevent making those mistakes again, you are actively growing as a person. Overall, I had a great experience at my first tradeshow and felt an instant high value achievement after attending. I truly felt like I leveled up as a salesperson and learned a lot on a personal level as well. Ultimately, if you are intimidated by something, all you have to do is try your best and push yourself outside of your comfort zone. You might be surprised how well you can perform during a challenge.  

This guest post is by Karlie Putt, GenTech Sales Associate. Connect with Karlie on LinkedIn, or contact her at (585) 492-1068 or for help with all your analytical instrument needs.

April 27, 2023 Update! Karlie and Joe have shared some video tips about their Pittcon 2023 tradeshow experience. They hope others might benefit from the lessons they learned.