I recently attended ArcUS12, a three-day networking event that brings together architects, designers and suppliers for seminars, scheduled 30-minute meetings and lots of opportunities to socialize. The event was superbly planned and executed (kudos to Bond Events, the organizers of the forum), and an excellent reminder that "social networking" existed long before LinkedIn, FaceBook, Twitter etc. appeared on the scene, and that the old school version of face time with your customers is as relevant and powerful as ever.
The format of the event was very conducive tothoughtful conversations about understanding our customers' true needs, and collaborating to develop the best solution, rather than a rushed review of products and services. And in my case, the conversations were truly a two-way street as I was able to learn a lot about how these members of the A&D community are accessing infomation about products and suppliers.
And I was pleased and (a bit) surprised to hear that the trusty "Lunch & Learn" channel is still a highly valued supplier interaction for most of the firms in attendance. Sure, websites have become the go-to resource for quickly accessing current product information, but pretty much every firm I talked with still placed a high value on (and routinely makes time for) the weekly 50-minute Lunch & Learn presentations from suppliers as a means of learning about the right product solutions for design challenges they encounter, and just as important to identify an expert resource to whom they can turn to learn more when they need to specify these types of products. The AIA CE credits are a big part of the attraction, cetainly; but so is the social networking.
Our local exclusive Hussey Seating dealers around the country put a lot of focus on building relationships with the architects in their territory, and together we put a lot of emphasis on developing our AIA CE programs and training to help our dealers to deliver them at these Lunch & Learns – nice to know that effort is still appreciated and relevant.