Last month, I had the pleasure of attending the NAED Western Region conference at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge in Phoenix Arizona. The conference took place from January 15th to the 17th. Although ATI has been an NAED member for several years – this was the first time I have had the opportunity to represent ATI Electrical Supply at the conference.
NAED is short for National Association of Electrical Distributors and is the trade association for the $70+ billion electrical distribution industry. Their website states that, “through networking, education, research, and benchmarking, NAED helps electrical distributors increase profitability and improve the channel. NAED’s membership represents more than 5,100 locations internationally”.
In my opinion, the following steps will help you make the most of your NAED experience:
1. Make appointments with your vendors / distributors in advance. Slots fill very quickly and some of the big players like Leviton, Square D and Eaton will have their hands full – scheduling meetings in advance is critical.
2. Download the app – the app is the best way to manage your schedule, see what sessions may be of interest to you, what time the sessions will be, where they are located, and most importantly who will be hosting. I highly recommend going to different sessions to see what you can learn. I thoroughly enjoyed the digitalization roundtable and the women’s luncheon.
3. Take lots of business cards with you and add contacts on LinkedIn immediately after meeting to reduce follow-up work.
4. Distributor booths are great for meetings and some much-needed one-on-one time with your strategic partners – I highly recommend getting a booth.
5. I found using Uber to be a cost effective way of getting to and from the airport. The hotel had a free shuttle to take guests to the nearby mall where they had cost effective meals along with a large variety of healthy foods.
While I didn’t get to see much of the Phoenix area, I hear it has amazing museums, botanical gardens, zoos, and mountains. I would have preferred that NAED provide food like they do at the Edge Marketing conferences, as it helps to manage your time better and is great for Networking.
Overall I give the conference an A+. The entire conference experience was phenomenal and the registration desk staff was amazing. This is a definite “must attend” conference!