“Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.”
~ Steve Jobs

I just returned from the Annual Convention for the National Speakers Association.

Imagine being at a convention of your colleagues in your industry. You’re there for four days. You attend panels that give you a few good ideas, but what really stands out is the people. You meet people before and after the sessions. You chat with them at lunch. You visit at the receptions. You might even skip a session to continue a conversation you started in the hallway. You get as many great ideas from meeting new friends as you do in the panels and main floor presentations.

Does that sound like your annual convention? It can, with the right tools and attitude.

Many people avoid their annual conference. The travel time, the monetary cost, and the perception that they can get all that content somewhere else for cheaper conspire to give them the excuses they need to miss these regular events.

Don’t be one of them. Your industry’s annual convention is the one thing you should not be skipping in your professional year. Here are a few reasons why:

  1. New Content. Yes, you might be able to do an Internet search or two to find information on any of the topics featured at the convention, but why not take advantage of the vetting the organizers put in to make sure you are getting the best perspectives on the hot topics of the day. Also, while you could read about almost any subject from the comfort of your laptop, it can’t replace the immediacy of being there in person and asking the questions that crop up while you are still in front of the experts.
  2. New Viewpoints. You have challenges in your business. You may have an idea on how to navigate them, but even if you do, is it necessarily the best way? Consult with your peers to get a new perspective on avoiding the obstacles you have in your path.
  3. New Horizons. You don’t know what you don’t know. Are there new opportunities you can take advantage of? Do pitfalls lurk around the corner just waiting to trip you up? The experts in the front of the room can definitely give you some of that wisdom, but you can also find it in those who sit next to you at lunch or during one of these panels. You can’t get that through a Google search.
  4. New Influence. Is yours an industry that has certifications, compliance issues, or is impacted by government on any level? If you stay at home you don’t get to complain when decisions are made regarding how your industry interacts with the world. Only those who choose to show up get their voices heard.
  5. New Business. Are you likely to find your perfect client at your industry convention? Nope! But you may well find other organizations within the association with whom you could partner to take on larger projects. You might get access to resources you need to better serve your existing clients. It’s even remotely possible you might return to your office with a referral in hand from some new colleague who can’t service a new customer. It’s not entirely likely, but it certainly won’t happen if you don’t show up.

In case you hadn’t noticed the theme here, the reason you absolutely must be at your association’s annual conference is the people. The immediacy of the face-to-face connection, the access to best practices, resources, and the crowd mind will do more to lead to your success than the purchase of the conference recordings.

But that only works if you show up.