When’s the last time you got out of your office? If you don’t attend Facility Management or Property Management related trade shows and conferences, you aren’t keeping up with the industry and your colleagues and you aren’t discovering solutions and products that will benefit your company.Last year, I attended four trade shows and conferences for Facility, Building and Construction professionals. The last one was the PM Expo in Toronto. Another was IIDEX / Neocon, also in Toronto and focused primarily on interior design, office furniture and green products. Then there was IFMA’s annual World Workplace in Orlando, Florida and the PRSM conference in Phoenix, Arizona for Facility Managers in the Retail industry.
In this economic climate, two of them were free to attend if you registered in advance. Only the seminars cost money and they were priced individually for as little as $25 each. At a trade show or conference, you not only get access to educational sessions, many of which apply towards maintenance credits for professional designations, you get to look, touch and feel the products and talk to the sales folks.
If you’re afraid of getting sales calls, just don’t give them your card or let them scan your badge. You can learn a lot from talking to the sales folks and they prefer that to standing around and watching everyone go by. Most of them are friendly and won’t give you a hard sales pitch.
There were also many free seminars on the trade floor and interesting keynote speakers that provided information and motivation that can help you in your job.The usual vendors were there with tried and true services and solutions but there were many booths with products or services that I hadn’t seen before and wouldn’t have known existed unless I attended the trade conferences.
This included new CMMS software vendors to round out the long list of available systems, unique new green lighting products, sound systems, recycling and garbage containers and a yet-to-be-released touch sensitive projection screen for conference rooms that was better than anything else I’d seen. I saw office furnishings solutions, new demountable walls that could save lots of money with reconfigurations and many more solutions from the mainstream to the obscure.
Consider it professional development and an investment in your career. Make the time to visit a trade show or conference soon. If the conferences are local, you don’t have much reason not to go. If they are out-of-town or have a steep registration fee, you need to make the case to your boss. In any case, the next time you switch jobs, negotiate it into your employment agreement.
For links to associations, many of whom hold trade shows and conferences as well as links to some of the conferences, check out the links on my main website. If you know of a tradeshows or conferences that should be added, please send me an email with the details.