Choosing which conferences to attend each year can feel like a prolonged game of chess. The game pieces, symbolizing each conference, compete for attention in a constantly shifting landscape.
Are your choices deliberate and calculated moves? Do your top picks offer access to seasoned resources, exposure to real-life successes (and failures) and a chance to fine-tune forward-thinking strategies?
What’s your competitive advantage? If you’re only attending conferences in the furniture industry, 2024 might be the year to think bigger and go beyond the industry you already know.
Venturing beyond the confines of the furniture industry can be a pivotal move, rich with opportunities. Attending a cross-industry conference this year may offer a bounty of diverse perspectives and insights from a broader spectrum of expertise. Exactly what you may need to successfully traverse a challenging and complicated marketplace.
“The advantage of going to events outside of your industry allows you to see ideas and inspiration outside of your industry’s field of vision,” says Scott Stratten, creator of UnMarketing. “Disruption is what happens to an industry that’s not looking; innovation happens when your eyes are wide open.”
So, let’s delve into why attending professional conferences — outside the furniture industry — should be a top priority for 2024.
- Cultivate new connections through strategic networking
The best conferences serve as collaborative, networking hothouses, fostering opportunities for business growth and expansion. When you venture to events beyond your industry, a conference’s structured interactions and curated engagements increase the potential for meeting new brand representatives, potential clients and vendors.
“Attending diverse conferences allows me to tap into a wider range of talent, which can present partnership and vendor opportunities,” says Laura Aldrich, executive vice president of licensing at Scott Brothers Global. “Whether it’s a networking event or engaging a tablemate in conversation, the insights I bring back to my team can become a valuable competitive advantage.”
Competitive advantage. If you’re focused on your company’s finances, take a closer look at how fintech services in other industries can be leveraged within your company.
- Focus on professional skill development
Conferences offer fertile ground for identifying new opportunities, allowing you to quickly acquire new skills, gain valuable insights and broaden your knowledge base. Stephen Ferguson, founder and president of Bedhead Marketing, believes the bedding industry is in dire need of inspiration influx to spark the innovation we’ll need to weather 2024.
“By immersing yourself in a variety of experiences, you not only gain insights but also kindle the flames of creativity that can illuminate the path to groundbreaking ideas within our extremely unique mattress industry,” he says.
And the knowledge gained can benefit more than just your company. It can help your industry evolve, enhance your professional visibility and boost personal credibility. Because SBG straddles a variety of industries, Aldrich attends a plethora of events, ranging from the furniture industry, women’s leadership, digital commerce and retail.
“Hearing the stories of how other industries address their most pressing challenges provides valuable insights into how we can tackle our own roadblocks — and support our retailers — through rapidly evolving dynamics,” she says.
Competitive advantage. If your challenge is increasing foot traffic in your store, attend an out-of-your-industry retail innovation conference. Regardless of what they’re selling, there’s a bounty of ideas to be harvested.
- Access new and different resources and tools
Professional conferences act as knowledge-sharing hubs. Keynote speeches, educational sessions, workshops and panel discussions are engineered to serve up the latest trends, advancements and best practices. For conference attendees, it’s about more than keeping up — it’s staying sharp and competitive.
“Our industry needs to catch up with the omni process,” says Ferguson. “Improving the online shopping experience and ensuring it matches the support customers receive in-store is a must. Without improvement, we’ll continue to sell entry-level and commodity products, missing step-ups, failing with accessory attachments and not selling adjustable bases.”
Competitive advantage. As a thought leader in your company leading a multitude of initiatives, other-industry events will ignite your creativity, fueling innovation and forward thinking.
Attending cross-industry conferences can be a transformative strategy. From fostering new connections and enhancing professional visibility to acquiring new skills and resources, may your 2024 conference lineup serve as a catalyst for both personal and professional growth.