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How My Career Has Evolved and Why I Enjoy Freelance Assignments

People!  It always comes down to People – building relationships with them, communicating clearly to them, and assisting them. I started my career as a PBX Operator and Customer Service Representative at Service Merchandise. It was an interesting experience to juggle the phone calls, look up items on the CRM, and have people come to me for help. I found that the manner in which I communicated and the effectiveness of my assistance was very important. No “bad” days were allowed. One day, I assisted a recruiter from a certain staffing company who offered to help me gain technical knowledge and move upward on my career path. Of course, I accepted.

This wonderful lady placed me in a position with a sales company. Honestly, I was just to answer the phones and file, but the Manager decided I knew WordPerfect and Lotus and began assigning new duties to me. I kept my mouth shut, bought books and learned! Suddenly, I was no longer a Receptionist, but an Inside Sales Representative as well. Wonderful!

When my husband was offered a great position we moved from the area. With the knowledge I gained, it was fairly easy to land my next assignment. Interestingly enough, the world of Word, Excel, and e-mails instead of faxes became more commonplace. More books were read and practice implemented. Due to a series of circumstances, soon my title was Office Manager of this company. Payroll, invoicing, shipping and receiving were added to my repertoire.

So, through the years, it went this way. With every new positon, I gained more knowledge not only about working, but about attitude, communication, dedication, and faith in myself.

Guess what? I found my second love…website management and digital marketing. The possibilities are endless and the knowledge base ever expanding.

I have the best of both worlds working four days a week as a Receptionist, Executive Administrative Assistant, Logistics Coordinator, Socal Media Marketer, and Database and Website Administrator for one company. In my spare time, I get paid (!) to build things on the web and play with graphics and words. I also get to help the Sales Manager of a company with logistic coordination, keep his database up to date, and meet new people by following up on his quotations. I’m told that we will soon move towards marketing as well.

Honestly, it boils down to the fact that I love learning, aesthetics, words, being of service, and wearing many hats. As the job market has changed and continues to evolve, I’m very grateful for all of the opportunities that have been awarded to me and will always strive to grow even more.

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The Rewarding Efforts of Coordinating a Trade Show

Sequel to “The Logistics of Coordinating a Successful Trade Show”

My first effort as a logistics person for a large exhibition was a success! Either I organized very well or was extremely lucky.

Just prior to the show, I discovered that the electrical lines had not been installed on the date that was requested and confirmed. I had placed a note on our carpet order to not move forward if the electricity was not yet connected. The carpet company followed through and made sure it was performed before they proceeded. The supervisor earned my utmost respect and thankfulness for following directions. Whew!

My first actual visit to the show was to pick up the exhibitor badges, parking passes, lead retrieval system and to ensure our booth had been set up correctly. Happily, I can report everything went smoothly and I was able to leave within an hour. The curtains had not yet been hung, but it was evident the staff was beginning this project.

The next day all of TALON’s staff and some of our manufacturers arrived at the booth to assist with assembling the kiosks and arranging the product presentation. Oh no! The curtains had still not been installed and the company in the booth behind us had a structure that covered our main electrical drop. I had to find a solution quickly. Luckily, the Floor Manager was easily found and she dispatched the personnel needed to resolve the problems in an expedient manner. We worked three and a half hours and were able to depart with the knowledge we would be ready Monday morning.

The days of the exhibit were busy, but flew by smoothly. We did not deplete our stock of supplies or promotional items. There wasn’t much remaining, but unlike years before, we did not have to return to the office to replenish our stock. This is largely due to comments from co-workers who had attended previously. I am extremely grateful for their input.

Many contacts were made and our principals and salespeople were pleased with the quality and quantity of the leads gathered for future sales. The e-mails I have received thanking me for my “strong support” made the effort and time I expended more than worth it. This entire experience has been a wonderful learning lesson. I am looking forward to the next one!

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The Logistics of Coordinating a Successful Trade Show

What I Learned

Where is the prospectus? How do I get started? What will I need? All of these are the first questions I asked myself as I commenced upon preparing for our presence at the largest trade show in the Oil & Gas industry, the Offshore Technology Conference. Preparation began in November 2014 for this exhibit in May 2015. I had plenty of time…I thought.

What I found, as I work for a manufacturer’s representative with thirteen principals, is that it is not as cut and dried as it may appear. People, places, services, advertising and products were all major factors.

Let’s start with people. A slew of communication is required. Will you be participating? Will you be staying at the hotel at which I have scheduled a block of rooms? Would you like me to schedule your travel and do you need a car? Will you be sending products or literature for us to use? Do you have any special needs? One must think of every single contingency from preferences to special needs and ask the questions because if the questions aren’t asked, the information is generally not provided until the last minute. Additionally, contacts! Who is the best contact for the trade show? Who do I contact regarding parking, special needs, carpet, electricity, etc. and how do I make a strong impression on them so they remember me positively when I need them? Another item I discovered is “first come, first serve” is the rule for all services. Don’t wait and hang on to money you are going to spend anyway. Get the order in as soon as possible to prevent delays!

Places, oh places. What is the best placement for our booth? Where is the foot traffic going to be most heavy? What parking lot is best for the location of our booth and does it have handicapped spots? What hotel will be the best location and price? Are we taking anyone out to dinner? What are the best restaurants in the area and do they take reservations? All of these questions demand attention at the beginning of planning for a smooth experience.

A common misconception may be that ordering services is the easiest task. At this point, looking backward, I laugh at myself. All services are not provided by one company. There are discount deadlines that surely should be met. Most contacts are friendly and personable, but some may not have the information requested. Find that right person and cultivate a congenial relationship! Sometimes there are hidden forms behind the forms. Example: If using an outside contractor, a Work Authorization Request form must be completed and submitted. Be patient, diligent, and communicative and keep an organized binder. Save all e-mails and confirm everything!

How do I advertise on a budget to best make our presence known? Many exhibit websites offer some form of advertising, whether it be an event guest pass, booth layout or an online presence in which the company name, profile and product information are showcased. Social Media!! LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook were all mediums I used; multiple personal and professional posts over time. It’s free and reaches your targeted audience if directed correctly.

What products and literature would be best for the exhibition and what else will I need? In this area speaking with the Principles, Sales Manager and President was very beneficial for me. I now adore the phrase “No question is a stupid question”.  We sat down together and discussed several aspects of the show, but this was the area in which I needed most help and their knowledge was invaluable.

We have now received the products and literature. Everything has shipped and I await in anticipation to see the fruition of my efforts.

TALON Technical Sales will be in booth 5179 at the Offshore Technology Conference. Stop by if you like or look for my follow up after the show. I’m quite certain there will be something to laugh about.