Posted on February 17, 2017
While tradeshows can be a great way to source valuable new ideas, learn about new products, and form valuable partnerships, we all know even the most disciplined attendee can be distracted from their objective. Each year, we attend or exhibit at dozens of conferences across the country, so we understand the desire to socialize with friends we haven’t seen in a while, or the allure of exploring foreign cities. However, we all want to leave the conferences with valuable contacts, information, or tools that make us more successful in our personal and professional lives. There’s no denying that the giveaways, luncheons, after-parties, and games are all great ways to network, learn, and have some fun, but it’s important to have an exhibit strategy.
Here are some tips for getting the most out of your conference experience:
Have a plan of action
Before you leave for the tradeshow, consider the challenges your organization is currently facing.- Are there looming budget cuts?
-Are you unhappy with your current vendor?
-Do you need to find a more efficient way to perform a cumbersome task?
-Is there possibly new technology you could implement to increase efficiency?
-Are your facilities in need of updates?
Understanding your current challenges will help you formulate a game plan for exploring the exhibit aisles, making sure you make the most of the typically limited time you have to speak to vendors.
Visit companies you know
This is a great opportunity to connect, or in some cases reconnect, with the companies that already have your business. Speaking with a representative face-to-face about your experiences with the company can not only open up dialogue about how the company can better service you, but also improves your overall relationship with them.
Visit companies you don’t know, but might want to
Our advice is to research the exhibitors beforehand and make notes on the possible vendors or providers you’d like to visit. The exhibit hall can sometimes be overwhelming, so having a loose itinerary of the companies you definitely want to learn more about will make your exhibit day experience more manageable.
Grab plenty of literature
Take advantage of the literature the exhibitors provide. A lot of the information is not only intended to sell the company’s specific product, but to inform you on trends in your industry or solutions similar organizations have found beneficial. Takeaways are also great reminders of the companies you visited during your whirlwind of a day, and can facilitate discussions once you’re back in the office.
Attend breakout sessions
Breakout sessions are often times the greatest value add for attendees of a tradeshow. Take advantage of the fact that there are so many subject matter experts in one place for you to learn from. As with exhibitor lists, tradeshows will typically share the breakout session schedule ahead of time, so be sure to factor that into your plan of action.
Don’t be afraid to ask the booth representatives questions. That’s why they’re there, after all. Any representative worth speaking with will be more than happy to take time to speak with you about your unique issue and how their company can help. Many will even offer to host post-exhibit discussions to facilitate a more in-depth conversation. If it’s a product that could really help your organization save time or money, take them up on the offer! The worst that could happen is you decide you’re not interested in what they can provide.
Make connections / network
Sometimes networking can be awkward – we get it. Speaking with people you don’t know may not come naturally to you, but tradeshows are the perfect opportunity to exercise your networking skills because everyone there is open to conversation. Plus, you already have something in common with the attendees and exhibitors – your industry. Use that to your advantage. Spark a conversation with someone while standing in line for a drink, pay attention to people’s name badges (which usually have the person’s organization, title, and name listed – a built-in icebreaker), and know that all of the exhibitors want nothing more than to talk to you. The beauty of networking is you never know when a seemingly meaningless conversation can lead to a mutually beneficial relationship.
Tradeshows are intended to bring a large assortment of solutions uniquely designed for your industry together in one place. Spending just a little bit of time game planning beforehand, and executing on a simple strategy can ensure that you not only have fun, but bring back valuable information for the betterment of your organization and your career. Visit every booth, grab literature (and the coveted giveaway!), listen to all of the great speakers, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Using these tips will help you get the most out of your tradeshow experience, so that you can bring ideas and solutions back to work, along with that tote bag filled with free swag.
The MidAmerica team will be at the upcoming Texas Association of School Business Officials (TASBO) Annual Conference from February 27 – 28 in Fort Worth, Texas. Make sure to stop by booth 1015 and say hello!
Posted on February 7, 2017
Women around the world are concerned about their retirement prospects. In the 21st century, women have more education and career opportunities than their grandmothers ever did, but the retirement path is still not always a smooth one. Lower wages due to gender differences, as well as absence from the workforce due to parenting or caregiving, can create negative effects on the long-term financial stability of female employees.
It’s a fact that women trail behind men when it comes to saving and planning for retirement. It’s also a fact that women tend to live longer than men, which suggests an even greater need for women to get serious about preparing for their later years.
For the past 12 years, the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies® has been publishing a retirement survey, and a significant part of this research is devoted to publishing research reports about women in an effort to raise awareness of the retirement risks that women face. The latest survey report outlines a lengthy list of “facts” about women’s retirement outlook.
Below is an abbreviated list of these facts, along with some tips that women can use to take charge of their retirement planning.
Retirement Confidence is Low. While 32% of men admit they are “not too confident” about their ability to comfortably retire, nearly half of women (45%) express that same sentiment.
Many Expect to Retire after Age 65 or Not at All. Fifty-three percent of women plan to retire after age 65 (40%) or do not plan to retire at all (13%). This figure compares to 54% of men when asked the same question.
Most Lack a Plan “B”. Sometimes people are forced into retirement sooner than expected, perhaps due to unexpected job loss, medical issues, or family obligations. Only 19% of women and 31% of men have a backup plan if faced with one of these circumstances.
7 out of 10 Women Save for Retirement. Seventy-two percent of women take advantage of employer-sponsored plans such as a 401(k) and/or savings plans outside the workplace (e.g. IRA), while 80% of men do the same. Men also start saving at an earlier age (median 26) compared to women (median 28).
Many Women Guess their Retirement Savings Needs. According to statistics, women live longer than men and should be saving more to support themselves in their retirement years. However, women tend to “guess” how much of a savings bucket they will need rather than using calculators or spreadsheets. Men are more likely to use mathematics.
Lack of Knowledge about Social Security Benefits. All retirees should educate themselves on the availability of government benefits. However, baby boomers (those born between 1945 and 1964) often fail to brush up on this knowledge. Only thirty-eight percent of female baby boomers claim to know “a great deal” or “quite a bit” about Social Security benefits, compared to 55% of baby boomer men.
Now let’s take a look at some suggestions for helping women become retirement ready.
The key is to START saving, and get into the habit of saving on a consistent basis.
If a retirement plan is offered at work, participate in it. Take full advantage of any employer matching contributions, if available. Take advantage of catch-up contributions if you are age 50 or older.
Maintain your ability to continue working past age 65. Keep your job skills current, learn new skills and technologies, or join a networking group.
Educate yourself about investing. Learn how to make your savings last longer by knowing when to take withdrawals from retirement accounts, and the best time to start Social Security. It’s important to minimize taxes and penalties, and maximize benefits.
Although every person’s situation can be unique, the tools for dealing with these situations are similar. And using as many tools as possible can add up to a big result!
Posted on November 10, 2016
If you have a 403(b) or 457(b) TPA account, rollovers allow you to roll over part or all of your funds into another eligible retirement plan. This comes in handy if you change employers or if your employer offers multiple plan types.
Certain rollovers are permitted by the IRS while others or not. These rules are updated each year and are provided in an easy-to-reference chart on the IRS website. Click here to view the current IRS Rollover Chart. One thing to keep in mind is that you must have a qualifying event to be eligible for a rollover, such as reaching age 59 1/2 or separation from service.
How to Request a Rollover
If you’ve made the decision to roll over your funds to another eligible plan, you’re only two easy steps away from completing your request.
Contact Your Provider
Your first step is to contact your providers. Simply let them know you’d like to roll over your funds to another plan. They will provide the necessary paperwork to complete the process.
Send us the Paperwork
Once you’ve received your rollover paperwork from your provider, complete and sign the forms and send them to MidAmerica for processing.
If you have questions on any of the topics in this article, please contact us at (866) 873-4240 or email us at [email protected].