It’s that time of year. The time when industry events begin to come fast and furious. Many of you look forward to attending SEMA, APPEX, VISION, and or one of the myriad of other events between now and June. You look forward to the brief break in a busy work schedule, to learning from others, or just like to see what’s out there and what’s coming. No matter the reason for attending one or more of these industry events, there is no getting away from the fact that they can be expense. Travel is no less expensive these days, being out of the shop (or even closing the shop and taking everyone with you) can come with production deficits that effect revenue significantly. If you’re going to take the time, make the effort, and spend the money to attend a conference, council meeting, or other industry event I encourage you to ensure it pays dividends for you. You will be exposed to many ideas, concepts, and gadgets. Take notes, makes lists, and take pictures. “Of course! Always do!” you say to me. I know you do. And too often that’s all you do! Have a plan around taking notes, pictures, and grabbing junk to stuff in someone’s sponsored bag. Here’s what I used to do when I traveled to events like this with a group of technical educators.
- We would meet in the morning – no, not at breakfast, after. Sit for 10 minutes and discuss what you hope to get out of today.
- Each of us made a list of 3 things we wanted to see, visit, do, learn for the day – and then we went about our business.
- We met at the end of the day to discuss how we did with our list, one thing that made a significant impression on us that day, and committed to following up on one specific thing on our list (with a specific deadline).
- Four weeks after returning home, we met again to discuss progress.
Whichever event you attend could be the best you’ve ever seen, done, participated in. However, it’s only as good as what you take away and do with it. Memories are great in life, but they don’t do much for a business. Business benefits from moving forward, trying new things, exchanging ideas, and implementing small changes. When you attend an event, think each morning about what you hope to get out of today, take your notes and pictures, reflect on these at the end of the day….and then commit to one of the ideas. If you take that one thing and actually do something with it you’ve made progress…and made the entire spend worth it! Keep up the great work and never stop learning!