Since joining the flooring trade press over 22 years ago I’ve attended countless trade shows, conventions and sales meetings, along with an untold number of industry-related events.

This is neither a boast nor complaint as this is an integral part of any trade journalist’s job. The longer one has been at it, naturally, the more events you attend.

For various reasons, some are more enjoyable than others—from getting the chance to reacquaint with people who have become friends over the years to the many extracurricular activities these gatherings afford.

More importantly, they allow us to do our jobs better, as we get to see the newest products, programs, technological advances and services companies are providing.

These events also give us the ability to have private conversations with top executives—from the mills to distributors to dealers, contractors and installers—as well as many of the folks who are out on the “battle lines” day in and day out. The more you see these people the more a relationship is built. A greater trust factor is developed, allowing opportunities to share information that would otherwise be left alone. Even an “off the record” conversation still gives one great insight on a topic, making it easier when writing a story even if you cannot address the specifics.

By now you are probably asking, “What does this column have to do with me?” Good question.

From the first day I attended my first event, I’ve been telling anyone who would listen that it is important for them and their staffs to take the time and energy to attend as many industry shows, conventions and especially educational offerings as they can.

While I still firmly believe this, I’ve truly come to realize how important it is for business owner and staff—specifically retailers, contractors and installers—to attend trade shows, conventions and seminars.

Since late summer I’ve been laid up following a major back surgery (hold the cards and gift baskets, as this is not about me). This has caused me to not only miss my first-ever Surfaces, but numerous industry trade shows along with buying group conventions and a list of other events.

By missing these I’ve come to realize just how quickly out-of-the-loop one can become. I’m not among the first to see the newest and greatest. I’m not able to converse face-to-face with the movers and shakers, along with those who can provide deep insight into what is happening. I’m not able to see dear friends and learn things I would otherwise never be able to.

For me, it’s about writing better stories and providing readers with factual information to help improve themselves. For you, it’s about making your staff and business the best possible, which will allow you to be the most successful and profitable in your market area.

While Surfaces has come and gone (along with some other big events), the year is still young and there are still lots of major shows for you to attend—something I strongly suggest.