I’ve been in the building products industry for more than 20 years, and one of the constants in this market is the trade show, such as METALCON International. This year, the show that serves the metal construction industry will be in Atlanta at the Georgia World Congress Center, October 1-3.
There are a lot of great things about trade shows. METALCON will feature, of course, a show floor where attendees can engage suppliers about products, learning more about capabilities. They can investigate new products and new technologies, giving their own companies increased capabilities.
One of my favorite things about METALCON is the demonstration area. Every year, experts showcase and demonstrate use and installation of photovoltaic panels at the Solar Bay. In this arena, you can really learn about the special marriage between metal roofing and solar power that can help differentiate your products and services.
The Green Island is another floor destination that can help you learn about the latest green technologies and information, including everything from product knowledge to tax incentives. Whether it is cool roof technology or improved insulation techniques, you can get the lowdown on the show floor.
Education doesn’t confine itself to the floor, though. This year, METALCON will offer up dozens of educational programs designed to help the metal construction professional improve his business, deliver higher quality construction and establish greater customer satisfaction.
It all comes down to knowledge and being a life-long learner. If you are happy with where you are and don’t feel you need to learn more about your craft and your business, then there’s no reason for you to attend METALCON. But if you are worried that your competitors are working to learn more and offer their customers more, then you might want to schedule a trip to Atlanta to keep the upper hand.
All of those are reasons enough to attend METALCON this year, and they speak to why a person who has never attended a trade show should get into the game. But what about those of us veterans who have attended dozens of shows and sat through hundreds of educational programs and listened to countless product demonstrations? We need to go just as much, and I’ll give you two reasons.
The first reason can be shown in a brief anecdote. I once saw a friend who was quite a sophisticated contractor sitting in the front row a seminar that covered very basic business techniques. He was writing notes as fast as his hand could move. Afterward, I asked him what he could possibly learn in there. It was the kind of seminar he should be giving. His response floored me. “Every once in awhile, you just have to go back to remind yourself of the basics to make sure you’re not missing anything.”
For veterans of the industry, now is the time to make sure you’re not missing anything. As we grow and new competition enters the market, we’re going to face new tests. The surest way to meet these challenges is to have a solid foundation under our feet.
The second reason to return to the show is equally important: networking. Where else can you mingle with the people who, on a day-to-day basis, face the exact same challenges and difficulties you do? Who know your problems as well as you do? Who can sympathize with your difficulties? Who have figured out ways to solve the problems that are bothering you right now?
They’re gathering in Atlanta on October 1-3 at METALCON. You should be there also.