How many meetings industry conferences and conventions have you attended? If you're like me, you lost count years ago. If I multiply the annual conventions by the number of associations that I am a member of, including GBTA, MPI, ACTE, PCMA, etc., and you get the picture.
I just returned from GBTA in Boston, and my observations inspired this post. There's one constant in every convention I attend: Suppliers outnumber the buyers. Some strive for a 50-50 ratio, but most events __ especially when there's a trade show component __ have far more suppliers.
Buyers attend annual conventions because they provide invaluable networking, advocacy, education sessions and certification accreditation. Suppliers are there to network, sell their company's services and products, and find future leads that could turn into revenue agreements. In essence, it's a perfect ecosystem of buyers and sellers, which translates into business getting done.
What bothers me is that while suppliers spend a ton of money to send their people to these conventions to network, learn and get leads, many do not attend the education sessions. And in case you're wondering if this is a generational phenomena, no; it's universal across all generations.
If you're one of those guilty suppliers, hear me out as to why you should start going to education sessions:
1. Your company spent a lot of money to send you to represent them. If you do not participate, leverage the opportunities of being an attendee, and learn more about our industry and your clients and prospects, you've squandered a wonderful opportunity for personal and professional growth.
2. Learning about the industry and the challenges your clients and prospects face in their daily jobs is invaluable for you to be a better and more effective sales professional. It allows you to elevate your sales game by becoming more of a trusted adviser who is knowledgeable and can proactively solve client issues and challenges vs. being an order taker.
3. Many talented and savvy sales professionals have successfully transitioned from sales into buyer roles because they took advantage of education sessions and professional accreditation opportunities (yours truly went from a long career in sales to becoming a corporate buyer for the Walt Disney Co. and then Hewlett-Packard).
In summary, don't waste a chance to learn and improve your industry knowledge and skills; take advantage of the opportunities afforded to you by representing your company to the fullest.
Kevin Iwamoto is senior consultant at GoldSpring Consulting. You can follow him on Twitter @KevinIwamoto. His book, Your Personal Brand: Your Power Tool to Build Career Integrity, is available from Amazon (including a Kindle version), as well as from CreateSpace.