By Carole Copeland Thomas
Last week’s trip to San Diego completed the 16th (or 17th) time I have attended the national convention of the National Speakers Association. I joined in 1995 and immediately registered for that year’s convention held in Minneapolis, Minnesota. With a few exceptions I have attended the convention each year.
During last week’s event, the leadership team announced an association name change: Old name: National Speakers Association to New Name: Platform. The dramatic change has certainly caused some debate within our circles, but at least I am glad to have heard the announcement in person instead of third hand.
The workshops, early morning sessions, late night community forums and hallway chatter made for a value added experience. The trip provided the opportunity for me to keep current within my industry and reinforce connections with other speakers, thought leaders, trainers, consultants and entertainers who like me are engaged in the business of communications.
Additionally I learned about the latest technology and reviewed new avenues of income designed to keep this business competitive and relevant to our client base.
The NSA/Platform national convention was NOT an inexpensive investment. With airfare, hotel, and a significant registration fee, attending the convention in San Diego put a dent in my budget. But the return on my investment will more than make up for the money I spent to get to California and back.
The same holds true for you and your industry. Be it the National Education Association convention, the National Black MBA Association, The National Bar Association or the American Medical Association...industry conventions keep you up to date on the latest trends and techniques in your field of work.
And it’s no different when attending social justice conventions, faith based conferences or sporting conventions. These national and often international experiences are designed to raise the level of awareness and advocacy for each attendee who will then take home the new knowledge and share with others.
All conventions are different. NSA/Platform conventions combined education with entertainment. Because most attendees are bankrolling the cost, they’ll get up at 6am grab breakfast and pack the morning general assembly to hear the headline speaker of the hour. Very few NSA/Platform attendees skip a day’s worth of sessions that they financed themselves. When it’s your money that underwrites your convention costs, you’ll do what it takes to fully engage in the experience each and every day that you’re there.
AFTER YOU GET HOME THE FOLLOW UP BEGINS
And then it’s the job of following up on all of the business card leads, website downloads and congratulatory emails that will keep you occupied for the month after the annual convention has ended. That’s what I am doing now that I’ve returned from San Diego and ramping up for the rest of 2014. And when I watch last week’s video clips and look at countless photos, I realize that my business development investment was well worth the price.
Whatever your career path, business journey or professional pursuit, an annual convention can energize your materials, keep you fresh, enhance your perspective and help you maintain your competitive advantage.
So...start now to save for next year’s conference/convention/seminar for your industry. Attend. Get involved. Offer your leadership. Volunteer. All will help move you to higher heights in your field of study, business, profession or career path.
Happy Travels To You!
Your Comments Are Welcome.
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Carole Copeland Thomas is a 27 year speaker, trainer and consultant specializing in global diversity, empowerment, multiculturalism and leadership issues.