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Limited budgets force tough decisions sometimes.
Consider the issue of attending a trade show or convention.
Trade shows cost a lot. You have the hotel, the show ticket itself (they are usually about $1,000), the food, the car rental or cab, etc.
Plus, it's tough to take time out of the office. When you or your team is out of the office, real work is not getting done. Just because a trade show happens doesn't mean that customers take a break.
Then there's another issue. A convention is just a chance for staff to goof off and ignore their duties. If the event is in Las Vegas how can you guarantee that your team avoids the craps table in favor of that breakout session on cash flow procedures?
No thanks, right? You are running a business, and can't afford to waste your time, or your team's time, with frivolous trade shows and conventions.
And, since you're a leader, the staff is forbidden from taking part, too.
It's a strong stance, but that's why you're the leader.
Except, you are flat wrong.
Here's the problem with that stance you're jaded. And your snark is costing you an opportunity to learn and grow your business.
Trade Show Truths: It's an Investment, versus a Cost
What is originally seen as a cost, should really be seen as an investment.
The breakout sessions hold real value. Learning from peers and experts in a field can make a massive difference in the career of a less experienced and younger employee.
Often the content at conventions is surprisingly excellent. I've seen nationally known people at conferences and learned from them. I've seen Kevin Spacey speak at Content Marketing World and Warren Buffet at a flooring convention. Seriously. Both were great keynotes I learned a lot from.
But I often learn more in the breakout sessions and networking lunches, though. It's exciting to sit with smart people and learn about each other's challenges. It's like sitting next to someone on an airplane. You can confide odd challenges in those folks because you'll never see them again and they generally are in the same boat you are. There's a freedom, and access to unvarnished perspective, that is not easy to achieve in the day-to-day grind.
If you're a well prepared and mature professional, you're going to get a lot of ideas and inspiration from the content at a convention.
Trade Show Truths: It's About Growth, versus Stagnation
New ideas are what fuels growth and keeps a business moving forward year after year. As a business leader, if you actively avoid gaining new ideas by being a curmudgeon about conventions, for example you are OK with your business and team remaining stagnant.
If you want to grow the talent of your team, then invest in their growth by getting them to a convention in the industry.
Trade Show Truths: It's Team Building, versus Time Wasting
Will your team goof off at a convention? Heck yeah! They will return with inside jokes and stronger relationships.
As long as they represent the company professionally and attend the events that were purchased, there's nothing wrong with a little fun, too. A team that likes each other also works hard for each other. And the cost of a trip, complete with its healthy dose of professional growth, is well worth the investment.
You may read this and conclude that trade shows are for the young. If that's your perspective, you are actively allowing your career to atrophy.
Pop a Red Bull and get on the convention train!
Image if you approached a convention and every learning opportunity with a youthful excitement? The result is a blending of your experience with the most up-to-date information in your industry.
If you are heading into 2017 looking for growth in your career or business, then find a convention that makes you better this year.
Invest in yourself, in your team, in your relationships, and your growth. The return is well worth it.
Josh Gordon is an award-winning marketing communications professional and President of Full Spectrum Marketing, a full-service advertising agency. You can reach Josh at firstname.lastname@example.org.