This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend my 35th high school reunion. Since graduating in 1981, my 75 classmates and I have managed to come together every five years—truly a testament to the bonds of our friendship.
During the evening, we learned whose parents have passed on, whose children have married and had babies of their own, whose jobs have changed, and who has retired. There was plenty of reminiscing, catching up and pulling up images of children and grandchildren on smartphones, while again marveling at this ingenious creation that was unheard of 35 years ago.
And then it was over.
Reunions are a time to look back at the past, to rummage through the dusty corners of our minds for memories, and to discover and hopefully capture some small pieces of our youth. Though “a good time was had by all,” I left this gathering of friends feeling at once nostalgic and happy, yet somehow a bit sad.
Nevertheless, just as I looked forward to my class reunion, I am now looking forward to tradeshow season. But I know I won’t leave with anything but a light heart and a head full of ideas. Tradeshows are a gathering where folks with something in common come together on a yearly basis, but for altogether different reasons and with altogether different outcomes. Though the same exchanges occur among attendees, one leaves with more than just an ache for the past and promises to “keep in touch.”
Tradeshows inspire, excite and engage those who attend. There is a takeaway, a prize at the end that you can put to use to make your operations more efficient and profitable, and of value to your employees. Best of all, there occurs the exchange of ideas among friends who share a passion for what they do. Yes, there are presentations and demonstrations that ultimately lead to transformations, but above all else are the conversations among attendees, both veterans and those new to the show.
At a tradeshow, there’s little time to look back at the past. The goal is to look toward the future. No one is there to capture anything but ideas. No one leaves without becoming inspired. And for the duration of the show, relationships are forged—truly a testament to the bonds of collegiality.
Ron Crowl is president and CEO of FeneTech Inc. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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