Adult Trade Shows: A Waste of Time?

Stephen Yagielowicz

InterNext is only a month away, and the time will pass quicker than you imagine. The January 'Vegas show is the largest industry event; and as Webmaster's who have never attended (and some who have) make last-minute decisions about the value of attending, I'd like to add my opinion for your consideration.

InterNext. The simple utterance excites me. Along with its lesser-traveled cousins, CyberNet Expo, AdultDex, and a host of regional and local adult Webmaster events, this bi-annual extravaganza is the place to discover our industries' latest offerings, meet the movers and shakers behind the scenes, learn the newest (and the oldest) money-making techniques, and recharge your spirit for the long road ahead.

You can likely tell by now that I definitely consider attending most of the Webmaster events, and InterNext in particular, to be a valuable use of time, money, and energy. Heck, I met my wife and many of my best friends at InterNext, and got my job at XBiz there as well! Even if your ambitions don't stretch as far as life-long relationships and employment opportunities, they're still a valuable exercise. Here's a few ways to benefit:

At their most basic level, adult trade shows are about providing an opportunity for manufacturers, service and content providers, sponsors, and other vendors to showcase their latest and greatest offerings. Wandering the expansive exhibit spaces of a show like InterNext can be a dizzying assault on the senses; as technically-savvy professionals and scantily clad "booth bunnies" along with flashy booth designs and special events are all vying for your attention.

You can meet your favorite sponsors and personalities, putting a face to the names you know, and developing relationships that can really pay off. Content provides often offer discounted "show specials," and some will even burn a custom CD for you on the spot. Some sponsors will sign you up at a higher payout rate, or offer you free content, while hosting companies will make it easier to transfer your sites to their servers and register new domains while you wait.

Need some new t-shirts? Grab yourself a year's supply along with a wide variety of other swag, from mouse pads to candy, free beer to freebies, and a nice canvas bag to put it all into as well. Don't overlook these handouts - especially the fliers, folders, and brochures, since you won't remember anything you hear, and will want to take it all home to digest when you can think straight.

Since there are so many things to see, and so little time to see them all in, be sure to study the show guide and its accompanying exhibit map. It will detail the location of the booths that you don't want to miss, and help you develop an overall plan of attack.

Not just for newbies, the seminars are an often-overlooked gem at these events where you can learn the latest tips, tricks, and techniques for building, operating, marketing, and profiting from your adult Web site. Legal seminars will help keep you out of trouble, while photo shoots and roundtable discussions will enhance your skill set. If you're new to this business, then plan on attending every seminar.

If you're new to this business, then plan on attending every seminar - doing so will pay off handsomely for you. If you're a pro, then choose a seminar or two to provide yourself a quiet break from the hectic show floor; you might learn something new. In either case, don't miss the opportunity to learn from some of the industries' best and brightest, where you will have an opportunity to ask all of your toughest questions. Don't forget to bring a notebook and a couple of pens, or you can be high-tech and record the seminars for later.

What can I say about these happy gatherings where free food and liquor are the norm, and public displays of sexual excess and stupidity are not unheard of? You can easily find all-nighters, as well as those that begin well after MY bedtime. "Youngsters" can easily over do it, losing track of why they're at the show in the first place, while the older, wiser, and more experienced operators will realize that the endless parties all offer a networking opportunity par-excellence.

Some parties are quite affairs held in a comfortable suite, while others are mammoth events at local clubs. Some fall in between, but my favorites are the informal gatherings held between friends in one another's rooms. Some feature "the giants of industry," but you'll only know about them by seeing my hopeful ass kissing as 4:20 approaches:

Regardless of which parties you attend, be sure to find at least one stranger to introduce yourself to. Especially if you're a newbie and on your own, take the time to network, you never know where it will lead. Just remember that parties are for fun, not heavy sales and serious brain-picking, and that you have to go to "work" in the morning.

One of the most overlooked benefits of attending trade shows is the motivation factor. Being totally immersed for a few days in the energy and excitement of these events can definitely "charge your batteries." Seeing the success of others, absorbing new ideas, and making new contacts will leave you ready for another round of the trials and tribulations of being an adult Webmaster or Webmistress.

For those who have tried everything and still cannot find the success they seek, and are now on the verge of giving up, then this is perhaps the biggest benefit. If you find yourself relating to "Webmaster Rocco's" adventures to an uncomfortable degree, then the boost you'll get from attending these shows will make the whole process worthwhile!

As you will no doubt notice, I am a big fan of these events for a number of reasons and highly recommend that you attend as many as possible. If you can work only one into your schedule though, make it the January InterNext - you won't regret it! See ya in 'Vegas!. ~ Stephen