Well, not quite. Business as usual for me means to be here in my living room which double-functions as my home office, on the phone to my customers and sending to and receiving emails from them.
Once a month, I travel 2 1/2 hours by train to the small town where the company I work for has their offices, and spend the day with my boss and colleagues there.
Every now and then, though, there are fairs or trade shows to go to; mainly as a visitor, as was the case in November when I went to Salzburg or twice this year when I spent a day in Stuttgart at the fair.
Twice a year, we are exhibitors and not just visitors, and it is the part of my work I enjoy most.
The week before last, my boss and I drove to Düsseldorf (that takes about 4 hours if all goes well) and spent three days as part of our manufacturer's team on their booth at the EuroCIS.
For me, it was the first time working a fair where I was not involved in all the preparations, in the unpacking and setting up of our hardware on the booth, in the daily cleaning and tidying up, in the catering, or in the packing up and loading the van for the drive back.
Instead, everything was organized by the manufacturer's marketing department, and all my boss and I had to do as co-exhibitors was to be there, talk to our customers (potential and existing ones), show and explain our hardware and enjoy the excellent cooking of the two chefs who, among many other staff, manned our booth which was one of the biggest, if not the biggest one, in the hall.
It was a good chance for me to meet a lot of people face to face, some of which I have not met before in spite of having been in close contact with them by telephone for almost 10 years, as well as some familiar faces I encounter every time I go somewhere work-related.
I have often wondered why I like working fairs and trade shows so much.
The most probable explanation, other than it being a welcome break-up of my daily and weekly routine, is summed up in three words: expect the unexpected.
The business world is, as we all know, full of unspoken regulations and rules. Not quite as strict as, say, 20 years ago, but still strict enough to provide a rather stable framework of foreseeable interactions and settings, such as the dress code and much of how people behave in this environment.
And yet, there is always the surprise element to be taken into account: you never really now in advance who is going to appear at your booth next, what country they are from, which language you are required to speak with them, what interests them, how good a contact you will be able to establish with them, and what is going to happen afterwards; will anything tangible result from their visit, or are they going to be part of the pool of never-to-be-heard-ofs which always make up a small part of the leads we take home?
We were showing this device (a touch screen cash PC) in a flower bed with water running over it for all of the three days, to prove its water-tightness - quite important for those of our dealers whose customers are restaurant owners.
The kitchen counter on our booth.
This bit was mainly "our" corner of the booth. My mannequin "colleague" here served no real purpose other than stand in the way.
My room at the hotel was a suprise; it was much larger than I had expected, and the overall impression of the hotel was better than what I had thought after I had checked their website before our trip.
This was my outfit on the 2nd day. I wore long black trousers on the first day and an apricot coloured jumper with a black ribbon round the neck, and on the third day, the grey dress I showed you already in the January edition of my Fashion Calendar :-)