I make it a point to attend the trade shows in my industry on a regular basis. I've been to my favorite ones often enough to notice when a regular exhibitor isn't in their "usual" spot.
Not only do I have the opportunity to meet with my favorite suppliers, see new products, rediscover old favorites and learn about up-and-coming products and services; I also have the opportunity to take some professional development classes on various marketing-related topics.
No matter how long someone has been in a particular business, I find that passing on the opportunity to take classes, seminars and/or workshops in their chosen field is the difference between someone who has a job and someone who has a career. No matter what the profession, there are always new techniques to learn, new applications for old methods, new products/tools, and tangential subjects that can result in greater revenues. Not to mention that, sometimes, we need to hear someone else’s perspective to rethink something we thought we already knew, or realize that maybe we didn’t understand it as well as we thought.
All-in-all, I greatly believe in the power of education. Yes, I hold two Bachelor degrees (Spanish and Hospitality Management), but a degree is not the be-all and certainly not the end-all for education. Whether you take classes directly related to your profession at trade shows, professional association meetings, or classes that might just give you a broader perspective at your local extension school, there is always more to learn. Maybe a class that relates to the type of customer you are pursuing can give you the added insight you need to close that big deal. How about a class in business writing to help make your e-mails and other professional correspondence sound and look more polished?
The possibilities are endless for allowing your mind to expand. The more you know, the better you can work your business. The better you work your business, the better your bank account will look!
Finally, if a professional certification is available to you, pursue it. In the long run, that extra effort does pay off. Personally, I received my MAS (Master Advertising Specialist) designation from my promotional products trade organization and am within a year of completing my CTSM (Certified Trade Show Marketer) from Exhibitor. While this may or may not add be perceived as valuable to my clients, it does give me added credibility within those industries and the people I work with to provide products and services to my clients.