Why Should I Visit a Trade Show? Isn’t It All Available Online?


Consultation in this day and age goes far beyond the traditional in-person meeting or an over the phone discussion.  Without having to confront a soul, one only has to remove a device barely larger than your palm from your pocket or purse and type (or speak!) away to find the information one seeks.  Our smartphone, and technology as a whole, has completely transformed our day to day life.  The way we contact and interact with people, research facts, retrieve data, shop and more has been completely revolutionized by devices that admittedly we can no longer live without (myself included)

Is all of this technology and convenience for the better?  I guess it depends on what you use it for and probably more, what you are accustomed to.  Entire generations of people will not know what it is like to live without having constant connectivity and answers at the end of a few keystrokes.  What once required a browse of an encyclopedia (remember those?)  or a trip to the library now requires but a few moments of your time and a small piece of plastic and microchips.  And for those that insist on speaking to someone, Siri is there to help.  However, for as powerful as our devices are, there will never be replacement for actual human interaction.

Technology is breeding a generation of people that are spending increasingly more time in front of a screen.  At one time, it was only a TV.  Add to that now the usage of desktop computers, laptops, smartphones and tablets and our screen time has increased exponentially as our human relation skills have regressed.  A child may ask “Why do I have to go out and play to see Johnny?” when all they have to do now is log onto their video game system and enter an online chat room to talk to them.  Seemingly lost is the time when our parents would say “Go out and play!” and boot us out of the house to play ball in the field or hide and seek with the neighbors.

Our dependency on technology is addictive (speaking from experience) and contagious and will most likely only worsen as our children who are growing up amongst these devices will enter the workforce down the road.  Having everything at the end of some typing may breed increasingly more introverts that see no need to get out of the house or actually interact with people.

In no way can our reliance on technology bring answers to all of our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).  I’ve spent too much time delving into the search results of Google or a website user forum only to find that the answer was at the other end of a telephone and 5 minutes of my time.   Sometimes the search term is impossible to strip down to give you the results you need.  Other times, inflection in one’s voice offers just the right spin on a question to give the proper answer.

Most of us already spend our days in front of our screens for our jobs.  Emails, internet research, word processing, spreadsheets, social media.  It all ties us down and gives us a false sense of security that we may not need to rely on an outside living and breathing source to give us the answers that we so seek.   Many of us in our day-to-day jobs spend time actually dodging human interaction – that pushy salesman, the untimely phone call, prodding co-workers, chatty deliverymen – so why would one go out of the way to put themselves in front of other people?  Sometimes, it’s the only way to get information that you seek.

In the building product industry that I have immersed myself in over the last 7+ years, reliance on word of mouth marketing and in-person salesmanship still stands strong, true and even (gasp!) desired.  While technology, apps and websites are designed to help architects, interior designers and specifiers on finding and selecting building products, there is a tremendous reliance on relationships and trust in the proper selection of materials and equipment for the built environment.

Trade shows are still a major part of the construction industry, as they are in many business fields.  While the internet and technology has done wonders for price shopping and delivery of generic information, no website, application or time spent in front of a screen will be able to take the place of a candid back and forth conversation between one educated person and one person seeking information.  In the construction industry, few trade shows consistently stay at the forefront for those seeking prized information and education than CONSTRUCT. CONSTRUCT, the Construction Specifications Institute’s National meeting & trade show continues to lead the way, delivering consistent and in demand information from year to year.  CSI’s CONSTRUCT is the only national trade show and educational conference for the commercial building teams that specify and source building products.  Whether an owner, general contractor, construction manager, engineer, interior designer, architect, construction specifier, manufacturer or a building product representative, CONSTRUCT has an opportunity for those not only looking to deliver, but also those seeking, information.  Year in and year out, those familiar with CSI and CONSTRUCT continue to travel to CONSTRUCT due to the quality of the information and education that it offers, as well as to meet up with friends, associates and trusted advisors from across the Nation.   Dozens of educational seminars are coupled with informational tours and an unrivaled trade show hall filled with exhibitors who put their reputation on the line with every building project that their material is used in and with every question answered.

So you may ask why should I visit a trade show, isn’t it all available online?  The simple answer is no.  Relationships and trust cannot be maintained entirely behind a screen.  Social media and technology has certainly moved relationship building into the fast lane, but it cannot be sustained entirely behind closed doors on a device.

If you are interested in attending, exhibiting or getting more information on CONSTRUCT, which is being held in Nashville from September 24 – 27, 2013, please visit www.constructshow.com


2 thoughts on “Why Should I Visit a Trade Show? Isn’t It All Available Online?

  1. We at CSI need to move beyond old and simple terms that sell short our real value. Names like Product Show make an event sound merely like a bigger version of the simple catalog that can be far more easily found on a screen.than in traveling to a near or far place to experience. Even Trade Show is a very generic term which can be confused between an event where people actually trade products/services and an event that can just as easily be for the barber trade as about construction.

    I attend events like CONSTRUCT and similar events in my CSI Chapter for the sole purpose of anticipating and solving construction-related problems. I need that one-to-one Q&A and even hands-on for a specific issue. I bring a one-track mind on finding practical ideas that will solve a major problem of the present or save me/my clients time and money in the future. Manufacturers that attend such events need to see themselves as far more than the person behind a website, flash drive, or video screen that explains everything for them. That’s when people think, “I really can just get this all on-line.” They need to be ardent advocates for construction excellence and send home the lucky attendees with valuable tools.

    It’s a fervent hope that an approach like this, if executed and publicized well, is a key to the far flung construction industry recognizing again the leadership of CSI and its members. Professionals of all types should display at these events, not just the manufacturers. We can still provide excellent guidance and preach well to the choir within our own ranks, but even our own ranks are not responding well to the time worn event venues of the past.

    The new name for this CSI experience? That’s not an easy answer, but it needs to be a bit of a surprise and far more expansive than the “Trade” or “Product” show. Looking forward to helping make it happen.

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