I had the chance to attend the Southeastern Meat Association annual convention a couple of week back. I’ve tried to get there whenever I can, as it’s always been a fun show, with good speakers, an interesting exhibit hall, and friendly attendees. Every time I attend the SEMA Show, I come away with a good article idea or a potential source.

That’s the same result I’ve seen from the other trade shows that I’ve attended. I’m on the journalism side of it, and I’m intrigued by the new technologies that are on display and the ideas that are discussed. I always encourage professionals in the industry to attend shows whenever possible, as they are so beneficial. The association trade shows, both the state, regional and national events are outstanding networking opportunities. The supplier trade shows provide a chance to learn about the latest technology or find that machine that’s just right for your business. Food shows like the Annual Meat Conference, National Restaurant Association Show or the IDDBA show how food companies are adapting to the latest in consumer trends.

The downside to attending these events is that you’re away from your business for several days. For some in the business, that’s a difficult proposition. I’m not a huge fan of the inconveniences of travel or trying to get comfortable in a hotel bed. But there’s nothing to counteract the pain of travel than to walk into a conference or a trade show and be inspired by the industry all over again. If you don’t have a convention in your agenda, find an upcoming event and get inspired.