June 15, 2024 in Motion Control & Motors

How to Make the Most of Your Time at Forum: Insider Tips from Those Who’ve Been There Before

We’re just over a week away from the top networking event of the year for the automation industry. This January 15–17, 2024, 700 of the biggest industry players are set to meet in Orlando, Florida, at this year’s A3 Business Forum. There are so many reasons to attend this unparalleled event, including these can’t-miss keynotes. But for any attendee who hasn’t joined us before, you may be wondering how to make the most out of your time at Forum. To help you get a head start, we’ve tapped some longtime attendees to get their advice on making your first trip a success.

Attend the First-Timers Reception

This may seem like a no-brainer, but be sure to make it to the First-Timers Reception on Monday afternoon. This breakout is designed especially for those attending the conference for the first time and will offer valuable information to prepare you for the next few days. 

This year’s event will be Alex Shikany’s, vice president of membership and business intelligence at A3, twelfth time at the Business Forum. “We love to welcome new people,” he shares. “We hang our hat on bringing new people into the fold to meet the returning folks to the Forum.” 

He really encourages all newcomers to attend this reception for a variety of reasons. “You hear from people who've been coming to the event for decades who have built long-lasting relationships and business partnerships through the event. They'll give you a heads up on tricks and things to do during the two and a half days.” He also recommends you exchange as many business cards as you can, because those newfound relationships will serve you for the rest of the year and beyond.

Network, Network, Network

The universal piece of advice given from past attendees has always been to network as much as possible. This event has kicked up countless fruitful endeavors and new business since its inception. A powerful success story from a past Forum comes from Sam Hostvedt, president of Automation Distribution & MDCI Automation

“By and far the most valuable connection that I've made out there,” he shares, “it just purely came out of a networking piece of Forum. I went to lunch, ended up sitting down at a table by myself because I got there kind of early. A guy came over, asked if he could sit down next to me. That guy turned out to be the head of Amazon Robotics at the time. And the gentleman that sat on the other side of me, we got to talking, and that was Eric Nieves, who was the founder of Plus One Robotics out of Texas. That just began a relationship that has kind of blossomed into a very mutually beneficial relationship.” One that has led to millions of dollars of business for both sides, he shares.

Alan Beaulieu of ITR Economics, who is set to give his yearly address on the global economic outlook Tuesday morning, advises you socialize, go to the meetings, and go out of your way to talk to people you’ve never met. “Make sure that you are getting connected, because those are the connections that will last for years and make for a much stronger Association and meeting.” But also, he says, “make it much more worthwhile for you as you go forward. And you’d be amazed as you look back over the years and go, ‘I remember when we first met,’ and it will be a great experience for you.”

Sell Your Vision and Perspective

While it’s important to note that this isn’t a sales event, says Chetan Kapoor, head of optimization and automation at Tyson Foods, this is an opportunity to provide people with something compelling they can come back to after the event. He also emphasizes the value of a newcomer’s perspective at an event like this. “The most important thing a new person does when they walk into a room that has never been there before is share their perspective,” he explains. This perspective is different than those who have attended before, making it very important that these newcomers contribute to the conversion.

Another piece of advice from Kapoor — don’t spread yourself too thin by trying to meet everyone. Instead, he says, “It’s better to meet a few and develop a little bit more because there'll be other opportunities. Go a little wide, but a little deeper with some of the folks that are going to help you out. If you're here for the first time, it's probably because you haven’t been in automation for a long time, or you just got promoted to a senior position.” Use this opportunity to learn, make meaningful connections, and share your vision. 

Check out our 6 Reasons to Attend the 2024 A3 Business Forum for even more insider information to prep for your upcoming trip. And don’t forget to pack your favorite jersey for the A3 Sports Night Party!

Not an A3 Member? It’s Easy to Join

We look forward to welcoming you at this year’s event. There’s still time to join the Association for Advancing Automation and doing so is fast and easy. View the significant benefits of membership and learn more. You can even schedule a meeting with A3’s Membership Sales Manager, Julia Stevenson to get signed up.

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