Trade Show Image

In the course of any given week I'll engage with a number of folks outside of my company. I may visit some local customers, give an online presentation of our latest construction software to prospective clients, or talk to an industry analyst. But this time of year I'm reminded of how large and diverse our industry is because this is the time when I hit the road.

It's time for a number of industry trade shows, and beginning with World of Concrete in Las Vegas I'll be on the road a few weeks. As I contemplate this trip, I'm thinking about how work is going to pile up while I'm gone. And I'm thinking about how some folks are saying that the day of the trade show is over. But I am not second guessing my travel plans for a moment.

Sure, today there are many more ways to exchange information then to set up shop at an industry event. Online seminars, electronic newsletters, LinkedIn groups—even blogs—can pass information between interested parties without the time and expense of a trade show. But as valuable as these media are (and we use them all at my company), they do not deliver what the trade show delivers—personal connection.

I write a lot about technology and how its evolution helps us work more efficiently. There is no doubt that it allows us to exchange information faster than ever. But there is a crucial difference between exchanging and engaging.

Technology can take us only so far in connecting with others. It can help us establish the connections and sustain them to a certain level. But to me, engaging someone means establishing a personal connection, and that means meeting them. Talking to them, listening to their stories, and understanding what a day in their life is like.

When I'm at a trade show or other live-in -person event, I can do this with many folks in one place at one time. I can get immersed in their world, which helps me serve them better when I return to my desk. The benefits far outweigh the price of an email backlog and sore feet. Which brings me to my main point. I cannot over-emphasize the importance of comfortable shoes at a trade show...

Are you attending more or fewer trade shows these days?

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