Friday, March 18, 2011

If you really want to get the most out of your attendance at the IRgA Convention, prepare in advance .....

..... of arriving in Las Vegas - - an ounce of preparation can yield a pound of results

In the advance convention program (downloadable from the IRgA’s web-site), Gary Wilbur, President of the IRgA, made this remark …..

….. “With twice the amount of networking, education and technology all under one roof, you’re guaranteed to leave with countless new ideas to grow your business. It’s imperative as we continue to operate in this environment that we leverage the collective knowledge of our peers and gain exposure to new technologies that will create efficiencies and new revenue streams.”

The other day, I received an e-mail reminder about early-registering for the convention. In that e-mail, this was said …..

….. “Hoping a little luck will grow your company and make it successful?”

“You won’t need luck when you can interact with your peers to get solutions to business challenges, and meet with industry exhibitors showcasing leading solutions and cutting-edge technologies.

“And, don't miss out on the top-notch education including the following sessions:”

“How BIM and Emerging Technologies Will Change Reprographics Forever”

“State of the Document Management Industry”

“Social Media: The Bridge to Raving, Engaged Clients

“MPS – Why This Is Key to the Growth of Your Firm”

And, like at last year’s convention, there will also be this session at this year’s convention:

“Open Space Technology Forum” - - 1:30 – 3:00 on Thursday

IRgA is once again hosting Open Space Technology (OST), a platform for inspired learning, powerful connections and effective communication that allows attendees to develop solutions and strategies and boost team productivity. Meet with peers in small breakout groups to discuss the state of the industry in an environment of candor and trust. Attendees receive a proceedings document of best practices.

So, where am I going with this post?

Simply stated, if the recession has caused problems for your business and if you are concerned about the future of your business, including the possibility that “print revenues” may not rebound in the same proportion as the A/E/C industry-rebound we will likely begin to see this year, then you should be working on your “strategic plan” for how your business should be positioned to survive and, hopefully, prosper, this year and in years to come.

I’m an older guy now, with 40 some years of business experience under my belt (and my belt seems to be growing!), and I would like to tell you, as strongly as I can, that, if you want to develop a strategic plan that makes sense for your business, learning as much as you can, at IRgA and other conventions and industry conferences, gives you wider exposure to what your industry associates are doing to confront the challenges that face their businesses. Their challenges are no different than yours. We can all learn from each other. But, to me, preparation is key.

If your parents and mentors were like mine, you undoubtedly heard, countless times when you were “growing up”, this expression …..”you only get out of it what you are willing to put into it.”

The IRgA published a list of the breakout (educational) sessions. Before you go to the convention, make a list of the questions you have about each session. And, when you are at the convention, ask the questions you came up with.

At last year’s IRgA Convention, the “Open Space (OS) Technology Forum” invited attendees to suggest different topics for discussion and debate. And, separate “circles” were set up to debate and discuss each different topic. Unfortunately, it was not really possible to participate in more than one “circle”, given the time allotted for the Open Space forum. While doing it that way (allowing attendees to come up with many different suggestions for “circles” to discuss and debate) was a nice way to engage people to get involved, to me, the most pressing subject reprographers are now facing is “The Future of Print”, and I seriously hope that, when attendees are invited to suggest topics for this year’s OS forum, that someone will “enter” that topic as one to be discussed. But, to go further, it is not just a matter of discussing and debating “the future of print”, to me it is a matter of continuing that discussion to include a list of the strategies that one should consider employing to be successful in business, whatever those strategies might be. But, you also need to go further. And, by that, I mean that, underneath each strategy you list, you need to identify, a) what is involved in each strategy, b) who it appeals to, c) what you will need to have or be able to do in order to offer whatever products/services you came up with as integral to your strategy, and d) how to actually implement your strategy (each different initiative on your list of strategies.) In other words, it is not just a matter of “theoretical thinking”, it is a matter of getting into the details!

I don’t know how you can do that if you aren’t prepared to debate, discuss, and be open with your peers. I’m a very opinionated person. (Some would say that’s being arrogant. I don’t agree.) I enjoy debates. But, I will not participate in a debate unless and until I’ve done my homework. And, if you really want to get something out of your attendance at the IRgA Convention, you should do your own personal homework before you go to Vegas. Before you show up at the IRgA, prepare what you think your strategic plan should be, including the “details” of your plan, and, then, bring it with you to the IRgA convention. The one most unfortunate thing about conventions is that they are often very brief. This year’s IRgA Convention will only be two days. That does not, in my opinion, give sufficient time to thoroughly debate, discuss and come away with relevant information. But that does not necessarily mean that you should not try. Developing close friendships with industry peers at conventions will allow you to stay in touch and to continue your debates and discussions. The “networking” events give you the opportunity to meet industry peers. Take advantage of those networking sessions.

I’ve said, many times before in different posts, that I’m not a genius (nor am I really all that smart). But, nonetheless, I’ve got 40+ years experience in business, most of that in the reprographics business. I would love to be in a position to assist different companies with the development of their strategic plans, but, unfortunately, I have a “covenant not to compete” (CNTC), which, basically, restricts me from doing that in most places in the U.S. and Canada until December 2012. If you want free advice and guidance (and someone to act as a “sounding board” for the plan you’ve come up with), I’m willing to do that for you, provided that your company’s geographic location permits me to do that without violating my CNTC. If you are interested, jot me an e-mail, and I will reply back to you. I will be available to do this on Wednesday and Thursday nights, up until around 10 p.m.

Do your homework before you go to Vegas.

Just an aside, but, a few years ago (and it seems like just yesterday), I took an associate to Vegas to attend the PEiR Group’s “FM Sales School.” While we were downstairs in the hotel where the PG meeting took place, my associate called home. He said to his wife, “honey, remember that saying, “whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas?” To which she replied, “honey, you’ve got it wrong. What I’m saying to you is, “if something happens in Vegas, you can stay in Vegas!”

If you want your IRgA Convention trip to be truly productive, avoid distractions!

No comments:

Post a Comment