The day after my visit at #vinitaly2014, I slept for 18 hours. Having done research, brochures, the excitement about being there for the first time, the pressure on me knowing (thinking) ((hoping)) that this event could change my working habits – subsequently also my life – drained me.
I woke up today, started to organize the material I grabbed there and my thoughts…it is like a cloud, no specific order yet, it is obvious I am not used to “post-fair effects”.
Vinitaly is a yearly four-day event, where the best of the best of Italian – and foreign – wine gets celebrated. Getting tickets was possible only, if you work in the sector – bar, restaurant, winery – which I am clearly not, but thanks to a very good friend, who has been invited by the sales representative of the wineries, whose products he sells in his shop, I also got a ticket.
We only had one day, the first day of the event. Based on my idea about hospitality at the Adriatic sea restaurants and touristic places, which wake up after winter sleep at Easter and have visibly more energy in September, being on the first day of a trade fair meant to me more generous sommeliers, more interested sales representatives and more opportunities. Downside: it was Sunday. The alcohol-taste fair was full already at 10 o’clock with half/fully drunken people by 12.
I did my research before getting there. Last year there have been 4 thousand exhibitors, setting up “my ideal client” just helped me to get through the list a little bit quicker. My main pillars were to find cellars:
– whose wine I know and love (well…this did not really shorten my list)
– where I later easily can catch up personally (only some regions remained)
– which are not extra-famous, so probably there will still be uncovered work (this was easy to pick, and excluded most of my favorite labels. I also expected less crowd in front of slightly less known stands, which could speed up the process and would allow me to get to more potential clients. Don’t forget that a completely unknown cellar wouldn’t make the investment to get here, so being on #vinitaly was already a selection for me, I just needed to pick a few, which fitted into one day without getting robotic with my speech and without being already drunk, when I start with it).
I also knew, I won’t be able to drink everywhere, but these people love their wines, so going to their stand and starting with my questions renouncing on their wines wouldn’t be an option. (I was not a foreign delegation, who could have made up appointments with the winery before, I was a “solo flash” trying my wings).
This meant four maybe five cellars, where I could blend in, and some more to seek information about future events.
We arrived around 10 AM. I immediately got shy. So many brief-cases, ties, delegations, the money could be smelled in every corner. I just wanted to hide behind my friends. I didn’t feel like I’d know anything.
We started at the stand of the Rimini wines (mostly from Le Rocche Malatestiane). After the first gamma of whites I shared a thought with my two companions. (One of them – my friend – since ever living in this region, the other one – friend now – who works since fifty years distributing wine and bottled beverages.)
I told them that I thought there’d be no way, people would take me seriously, I am a single girl, without any reputation in this field. They taught me something important: the person in front of you is nothing better than you are. People will look at you depending on how you present yourself. Going to a stand and not knowing, what you want to say or how to start makes them think you don’t know, what you want to say and how to start, while being sure and talking fluently will assure them you know, what you talk about.
I also held another important advice from the business school: if you don’t want to put your conversation partner into the inconvenient situation of refusing your superfluous services, than try not to sell them something, they don’t need. Try asking them questions, which will lead to a conversation about their plans in abroad, where once they understand from the conversation, you are familiar with this topic, they will beg you for your business card. And this is what happened.
I went to the region, which I knew and whose wine I really love and know. I started tasting and asked questions about their wines and if they already are present somewhere abroad. I took their brochure and asked about their choice of having the material only in English, where clearly Chinese and Russian delegations were more present. So we started talking and it just popped into the discussion that I am a translator, very interested in this field, having a broad collaboration network with specialized translators, no agency, just interested people. They wanted to have my contact details and asked me to come next week to their cellar to talk again. It was amazing.
At another stand there was no-one letting me taste and the marketing manager had a delegation, so I had to wait some moments. In the meantime a guy arrived and let me taste some wines. When the marketing manager got free, he stood up and asked me like so directly: good morning, what is what you wanna sell us? And I just stopped him right there: nothing, I am here to taste your wines and to know your future plans better. He relaxed, we started talking, I have his card, he said after the fair we will catch up.
I mean, I might be wrong here, but I think, if you see that products and services are made by and for people, everything gets easier. You have to stop talking and start listening.
It might happen that you will never pull your business card out, because the conversation does not lead to it, so then just don’t.
We were there until 5 o’clock. My head was full…full of ideas, full of thoughts. Now the most difficult part starts: how to turn these people into clients with a follow-up meeting. Will I meet their expectations? Will there be anything I can translate for them?
Luckily, these meetings are in cellars, wine is always involved, keep crossed your fingers, people, exciting summer comes. Cheers!