Having spent three days at what used to be called the LIWSF (London International Wine & Spirit Fair) I think it would be fair to say that the most important activity of the three days was not the popping of corks or even scratching of pens on paper (does anyone actually do that anymore?), but the shaking of hands.
Having said that, I have returned from the event feeling positive and excited about what is going on and far from the doom and gloom one might have expected in these troublesome economic and social times.
For the first time in many years I got a chance to get off my stand (more on that experience elsewhere) and attend several seminars, meet interesting people and also taste a couple of wines.
There are two ways to "work the show" - exhibitor and attendee. I have not been an attendee since 2002, and when I am exhibiting I get "in the zone" and struggle to feel comfortable if I am not doing what I came to the show to do - but maybe that is just me.
The good thing is that if you stand still in one place for long enough all those who are furiously running around the show looking for something (and often getting lost in the process) will come past you.
I am often asked whether I had "a good show", and it is a difficult question to answer.
From a commercial point of view, I somehow doubt much wine is bought and sold at the show that would not be bought or sold anyway - but it does help to know that potential customers and suppliers are all in the same place at the same time. There are also so many innovations, new wines, redesigns, etc. that only the most driven, lucky or high spending will get any chance of getting noticed.
The most important element is "networking", an old fashioned concept that has not been replaced by the newer "social networking", which involves being in the right place at the right time, ... and shaking hands.
I managed to shake hands with lots of existing customers, which makes me, and them better informed about each others needs and experiences. I shook hands with new customers who can now go away and think about whether they want to do more business with me. I shook hands with some very interesting new contacts at the WSTA, WRAP, Wine Intelligence (I will post about these meetings separately) and more. Last, but not least, I shook hands with a lot of friends I rarely get a chance to see, particularly if they now work in competitor businesses.
All in all, I must say that attending the show was a good experience, and I therefore had "A Good Show".
Now, off to launch a wine called "handshake" so that every time someone meets up at next year's event they think of my wine.
(Main photo Shake my Hands courtesy of framboise - some rights reserved)