Being in the trade show industry, we know how valuable face-to-face meetings are to a company’s bottom line and to any professional’s career.

We know that when colleagues get together to discuss best practices and share insights, new ideas emerge and attendees go back to the office with new found energy and are eager to implement what they’ve learned. And we know how cool the exhibit hall swag is and how fun it is to go home with a bag full of goodies.

Even little Han, the owner of the diner in the hit show “2 Broke Girls,” can testify to the value of a trade show.

As you can see from the video, Han obviously got some onsite demos of the latest restaurant-industry technology. Aside from the cool swag he brought home, he found a product that would increase his profits and streamline his operations. His only real problem was getting his staff on board, which can be tough even for those of us who want to be on the cutting edge of our market. So how do we combat the apathy and full schedules of overworked staff, or those employees and supervisors who just don’t want to change and are happy with the status quo?

If you’ve been in this situation before, please comment on how you or your company handled it. We’d like to hear about it in the comments section.

Have you tried any of the following?

  1. Send several team members to the same show—or similar shows—so they are all on the same page when they return to the office and all have the ambition to move forward and get something done.
  2. Have a team-training meeting—or two. Let the people who attended the conferences give a presentation or two highlighting what they learned. Brainstorm with the team on a couple of the most important takeaway items—and make a plan to begin implementing them. We did this recently at CSG and it has helped our entire team learn some new trends and be aware of technology that can help our clients.
  3. Assign staff who want to take charge of certain tasks or strategies—this may be an opportunity for some of your staff to show their stuff or to expand their skills, which always boosts both morale and productivity!
  4. Illustrate how the new technology or process/procedure will benefit the company and employees. Make assurances that your colleagues will not be negatively impacted (e.g., financially or with a heavier workload). If your employees or colleagues are going to have added work or responsibility, make sure there is a solid need for it and evaluate whether or not an adjustment can be made to compensate for it.
  5. Get a third party in to facilitate a goal-setting session. Your team can collectively decide how to incorporate new ideas into their work, how to measure your success, and how to celebrate when you’ve accomplished your goals. We did this last year at CSG and we still talk about goals we’ve reached and celebrate those as a team.

Tell us about the coolest thing you’ve seen lately at a conference! What’s the best swag you’ve taken home?