I am just returning from an industry conference and trade show that was hosted here in Chicago. The NAQP Owners Conference is an annual event that offers a variety of timely break-out sessions along with the keynote presentations. It lasts for just two days typically, and then transitions straight over to Graph-Expo, which is a 4-day event at McCormick Place.
As is common for almost all industries or markets, these conferences can be a great way to connect with your peers and to learn how they are “attacking” the same issues or challenges that you do. The differing perspectives are really enlightening and admittedly you can leave a discussion thinking to yourself – “why the heck didn’t I think of that!” On the other hand, now that you know the approach your colleagues took, at least you can honor them by imitation.
The sessions I attended also provided a needed boost. The speakers helped to motivate and bring some clarity to topics I have been thinking about. In fact, I have several key initiatives that I will need to plan on over the next couple of months. Most of these center on marketing strategies that can also be incorporated into other markets as well – so likely you may hear more of these in the coming posts! (To give you a teaser, the two biggest are landing pages and mobile applications)
At the trade show, I only have spent a couple of hours there so far. I will admit that I am not in a buying mode right now, although doing some research for a couple of items that we will probably add next year. However beyond just the specific items that I was looking at, a visit to shows like this can also help bring focus to where our industry is moving. I have actually attended this show every year since 1978, and it is amazing how many of the exhibitors have changed over the years – or at least to the extent that they are major or minor “players” in our business. Later this week I will be bringing a few other people down to visit the show, and one of them for the first time. I am sure it will be pretty amazing to her to see the breadth of the industry and the extreme investment that many vendors commit to every year.
Looking back on the past few days I realize that perhaps the biggest take-away for me though, was just the opportunity to look again at the big picture, and to re-charge my batteries. Especially in our current economic environment, we all need to really see how others are doing and to feel the dynamics of our industries. There are great opportunities out there for all of us and if we can put into action just 2 to 3 ideas, we could find a real boost to our organizations for the coming years. Go for it!