Trade Show vs. Online Education? Why you should attend CONSTRUCT!

I was asked recently why someone would want to attend a trade show when they can get so much education via online resources without ever leaving their desk or house.  This was an easy answer!

Sure, online education is helpful and a good way to reinforce your knowledge and skills throughout the year.  What is missing from online education is the people, the personal experiences, the hands on, the questions & answers and the stories.

At a trade show, like CONSTRUCT you get so much more.

Let’s start with the education sessions.  There are many, they are varied and they are taught by some of the best in the business.  When you attend education sessions at CONSTRUCT, you not only get the class but you get downloadable pdf’s of the class materials/presentation after the show for reference.  You also have the unique opportunity to ask the instructor questions, hear others questions and feedback and often interact and discuss an issue even more with that instructor and others in the class in the social events surrounding the education sessions.

Then there is the show floor with the huge variety of manufacturers and product reps.  Many of us, especially specifiers, get regular lunch and learns in our office.  Those are not the same.  Typically, manufacturers pull out the big guns when they present at a trade show.  They have big displays, usually their best representatives and a lot of hands on opportunities with the actual products that they would never haul into your office for a Lunch and Learn.  Sometimes these products are full size mockups where you can see the product in action.

Then, there is the show floor education sessions with very specific education related to a particular product and application.  Just a few of the examples this year at CONSTRUCT are “Subfloor: The Hidden Asset” by Huber, “Wall Insulation Technology” by Firestone, “Paint Technology: Chemistry and Performance (Paint 101)” by Benjamin Moore.  This detailed knowledge of particular systems is invaluable to anyone in AEC who is involved in buildings and their performance.

CONSTRUCT also offers technical tours, this year at Austin’s new Central Library.  The Project Architect will guide the tour and describe, in detail, the sustainability goals and achievements, the adaptable spaces, how the photovoltaic array attributes to 30% more energy efficiency and how the Library was designed to seamlessly integrate into the surrounding eclectic community.  It is not often you can visit a building and get first-hand knowledge of how it came together and ask the Architect why they made the decisions that they made.

Of course, you always have the Keynote Speakers.  This year CONSTRUCT has Larry Winget, the Pitbull of Personal Development and the Game Changer Session with James Benham talking about how new technologies are evolving construction projects.  How’s that for an added bonus.

All of the educational sessions qualify for continuing education credits.

The last piece is the social events.  Honestly, you can learn as much during these events as you do in the classroom.  Top professionals from all over the country (and even some from outside of the USA) come together in one place for this event.  The wealth of knowledge, experience and advice that they have to share is absolutely priceless and trust me, they share.  I have made many friends at CONSTRUCT.  The sharing does not stop when the show is over.  I have many well respected professionals that I can contact for help at any time during the year.  Professionals with real life knowledge and experience.

The bottom line is this – You can attend online education sessions all year long and still not come close to what you can get out of 3 days at CONSTRUCT if you do it right.  Those online sessions will never give you the personal connections, inside knowledge, stories and hands on exposure that you get from attending a show.  Hands down the best professional development activity for me every single year!



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