Tuesday, October 17, 2017
Dave Carlock - A Day In The Life
WHEN NETWORKING, 'BE' THE PLANCHETTE
Originally Posted: 01-17-2014 3:47 PM
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The National Association of Music Merchants Show is the biggest annual trade show put on to showcase manufacturer's new musical equipment products. They have a Summer show in Nashville, but the Winter one is the treat to attend, being in the home heart of sunny southern California.

This year, the show coincided with the second onslaught of the Polar Vortex, slamming down like a cell door just behind my 6:30am Southwest Airlines nonstop. Heading back to Los Angeles to visit old friends and make new ones at Winter NAMM was something I looked forward to every year, even if it meant some Michigan friends might disown me this time around. Forecasted wind chills of -30F in Benton Harbor meant I probably shouldn't call anyone back home while I was gone.

I've done NAMM a number of ways in the past. My first trip was as a Pro Audio Salesperson for Westlake Audio back before millennium, where my job was to absorb as much info on the new gear as possible and educate myself on the direction of the industry to best aid my clients. Since making writing and producing a full time career, I've also attended in short bursts, driving down to Anaheim from Hollywood. I've attended with an assistant, and I even attended with a small crew, filming footage for a pilot called Dave Carlock's Funkin' Rock Road Trip. But I've determined without a doubt my most exciting and productive way to roll is solo--all in--the full week--no hedge, no respite, no wimping out.

By traveling alone, I set my course without relying on other people's energy or interest levels. I can change my direction in an instant, follow an opportunity or a friend's invitation, and go full-on random explorer. This requires a mental approach much like approaching battle and it's not for the weak. It's unrelenting but exhilarating for the right personality type. Days start at 8 and end at 2, non-stop.

A couple of great NAMM tips: if you're driving in as opposed to walking from a neighboring hotel, make sure you get out the door early so you can secure a parking place. The convention center lots are typically filled by 11am. Planning a good breakfast is a really wise idea so you're sure to have the energy to plow till afternoon.

Fortunately, I have the ability to filter out the cacophony of sound coming from over 1000 booths, so the background noise doesn't usually register till day 2. I would suggest earplugs for the sensitive, but that also isolates you from hearing other people's conversations. In that regard, I don't recommend it.

When one stops to think that there were over 95,000 attendees at NAMM 2014, the question is how in the world does one make the most of the time and experience? Well, my interest in the gear is minimal now. My focus at NAMM is maintaining and creating new relationships. The real value in the room is all of the PEOPLE attending, not the inanimates.

So how do I do my best networking? My secret to NAMM is to "Be" The Ouija Board's Planchette, or "pointer". If you've ever played with a Ouija board, you may feel like the pointer is inexplicably guided by an unknown energy--so is my approach. I simply surrender to the flow and leave my movements up to the influence of one of the following, which ever you would prefer to call it: the Universe. God. Allah. Buddha. The Creator. Chaos. Chance. Or simply an ideomotor effect.

The truly infinite number of paths that can cross in a 1.6 million square foot exhibit space with over 95,000 attendees is mind boggling, so I just begin to walk. Fortunately, I know a lot of people, so I end up finding people before long. But like driftwood floating down rapids, I bounce from one place to the next, claiming no direction while maintaining motion--a delight for anyone with ADHD tendencies. I may be pulled toward a booth temporarily or join up with a friend as we head in the same direction, but these pairings are rare and somewhat brief. Keep it light, keep it fun, keep your eyes and ears open. Everyone's on sensory overload, so the goal is to surf on top and have a blast. Take photos, share cards or contacts, and GO. That's how to survive and thrive at NAMM.

Cards even seem outdated these days. They're too clunky and require the homework of entering into the contact database post event, so my preference is to directly enter phone numbers on the spot and text the subject a selfie of the two of us, or any group we were in as a reminder of our fun interaction.

This does several things in one powerful time efficient movement: it shows them who you are visually and gives them a bit of context how and where you met. If the photo is of a group, it can tie things in even tighter in that one photo. It also ties the person's identity to a text number in case you lose your contacts--a backup lifesaver in the case of a phone calamity. Plus, TAKING SELFIES IS FUN!

Selfies ARE the best casual photograph because it's face-focused (who cares what people are wearing), everyone in the photo can see if they look like a moron and make adjustments, and you don't end up with someone you don't know screwing up your photos.

NEXT WEEK: Tales from NAMM 2014!

FIND A WAY MY FRIENDS!
Dave Carlock
DAVE CARLOCK -
A DAY IN THE LIFE
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