By: Lindsey Allbritton
My alarm goes off at 5:30am on Friday, May 8th and I jump out of bed – both nervously and with excitement – and get ready to head south toward Orlando to attend my very first Southern States Symposium & Expo. This is the largest dental laboratory industry meeting in the country run by a nonprofit association and one of our clients, the Florida Dental Laboratory Association (FDLA).
To provide a little bit of background, Partners in Association Management has been providing management services to state, regional, and national associations of all sizes since 1998. We currently manage 19 clients and I work directly with 3 of those: the National Association of Dental Laboratories (NADL), the National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology (NBC), and the Foundation for Dental Laboratory Technology (FDLT). Although these 3 are different organizations, they work hand-in-hand to advance the dental laboratory industry. Imagine a tripod – what’s a tripod without the third leg?
Now that you have a general idea, I wanted to share what I found were the most important advantages to my career in attending this meeting and also how you can benefit from attending a similar meeting for your organization.
1) I was able to build in-person relationships
There are very few people involved in these 3 organizations that reside in Tallahassee, making email and the telephone a necessity in successfully completing my job tasks. I talk to people from Minnesota, Vancouver, California; you name it, on an almost daily basis. I thought I knew each of them personally, but something clicked when I was able to give the firm handshake. Whether it’s a board member or someone interested in joining your organization, suddenly a new form of mutual respect is developed. I heard, “Oh! So you’re the person I spoke to on the phone?” countless times. Sure you can successfully complete your job via email, skype, and phone, but I think the in-person greeting is eventually needed to continue to expand on a strong relationship between you and the people involved in your organization.
2) I found a stronger purpose in my job
Being at FDLA’s Symposium & Expo gave me a whole new feeling of the purpose in what I do. Each individual there is dedicated to the dental laboratory industry. They’ve traveled from all over, took time off from work, left their families, and spent hundreds of dollars – all to attend this meeting and expand on their knowledge to further their career. My favorite part was being able to see and feel each individual’s pride in their accomplishments. If it wasn’t this, then I was able to recognize their strong desire to accomplish a higher status than what they already have. Most importantly, either myself or someone else on my team helped them get to where they are or will help them get to where they want to be. Now that’s a good feeling.
3) It was an incredible learning experience
Overall, the experience in attending this event couldn’t have been better for my future at Partners. The best way to explain it is that it helped tie everything I do together into one. Not to mention, people ask way more out of the ordinary questions in person than they will on the phone! Because of this, I am now more comfortable assisting others in every aspect. Luckily I was able to attend this event with a colleague who has been with the company for several years and if we weren’t able to provide an answer, we certainly directed them to who they needed to contact to fulfill their answer.
If you have the opportunity to attend a tradeshow or something similar for your career, I highly recommend you do so. Outside of all of the above, regularly attending events makes you more knowledgeable in your industry and creates brand recognition. Someone might not have stopped by our booth this time, but eventually they’ll become curious enough to inquire on what we do. After all, you won’t discover the benefits until you go!