Every time I head to a conference or trade show I have that first impulse to make detailed lists of talks to see or booths to visit. It is easy to quickly build the trip in to an itinerary and rigid schedule. I have learned from past trips that the connections, memories and lasting results rarely come from attending a talk or seeing a new gadget. They come from the people you meet. The conversations over dinner and the surprises you could never predict are what give us a return on the time and energy spent traveling to these shows. I am writing this on my way to the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. With over 100,000 attendees and 20,000 exhibitors there is no way I could even begin to schedule this trip out. All I know for now is that we plan to meet with good friends and make new ones. What comes of that is a mystery.
An update: We toured the Zappos facility and spent several hours over great food with Clay Hebert, Chris Nordyke, and Donavon Roberson. Our conversations were genuine and enjoyable. If it is not about the people you meet, you might as well save your business money, your family the time away, and stay home.