Today I am attending the Comfortech Show and Women in HVACR Conference in Nashville, TN. I’ve been looking forward to it for weeks, and actually wrote this blog a couple weeks ago because I knew that I would probably be too busy to blog about a conference while I was actually attending that conference. And this brings me to the topic of my blog today – conferences are woefully misunderstood.
Some think they are a waste of time. Others think that they are a clever way to vacation at the expense of an employer. Neither of these has been my experience. Not even close. For me, conferences allow for concentrated “work on the business” time. In the day-to-day madness of urgent phone calls, emails and fires to put out, you often forget that there’s a bigger picture. If you are only focused on the urgent matter right under your nose, you could miss opportunities, or worse, major pitfalls that are just down the line. Conferences help pull me back so that I can focus on that bigger picture. They get me thinking, push me out of my comfort zone and energize me. I always come back home full of ideas and hyped up with post-conference energy. How could that be a waste of time?
And as far as conference vacation? I don’t know about you, but the last place I would want to spend a vacation is in a hotel conference room! Any conference I’ve ever attended features long days of seminars followed by long evenings of networking. Though conference holders always make an effort to offer something fun to do, I wouldn’t call it a vacation. But maybe I’m doing it wrong.
The other thing conferences are especially good for is seeing how well you are “keeping up with the Joneses.” Not in a competitive, measure your man-parts way, but in a where do we fit in the industry way. For example, how does our technology compare to what others are using regularly? How do we compare skill-wise with our service offerings? Can we be doing things in the office more efficiently? That kind of thing. It gives you an opportunity to view your company’s strengths and weaknesses through the eyes of fellow businesses. And generally these are not direct competitors so you don’t have to worry about divulging too much.
And I’m not going to lie, one of my favorite parts of the conference is the bag o’ loot they always give out. I don’t care what it is – a pen, keychain, hand sanitizer, whatever – I just go gaga for that stuff. I’m not proud of it. But I will keep that stress ball shaped like a wrench on my desk for the rest of my life. Cuz that’s how I am.
Next week, I’ll blog in detail what items I received in my Women in HVACR loot bag. Just kidding, but I do hope I’ll have some conference wisdom and energy to share. See you next week!