At the IEC National Headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, my office is in the front, directly next to the conference room. For the past few weeks, my fellow staff members have been racing back and forth past my office so fast that the papers on my desk fly in the air. This urgency could mean only one thing – it is convention season!
As I write this column, the 56th Annual IEC National Convention & Electric Expo is just a few weeks away. This is my fifth IEC convention, and every year the preparation the month before is intense. There so many details that must be taken care of to ensure that all attendees get the most out of their convention experience.
While the work leading up to the convention may seem strenuous, for IEC staff members, it is a joy. Many of us have worked in the association sector for years so we are familiar with the demands of convention season. However, what is special about IEC is the instant gratification that we receive.
Once onsite at the convention location, it is easy to get caught up with the management of the convention, but the staff always makes sure to set aside a significant amount of time to talk with IEC members. These conversations are the only gratification that we need for us to know that every hour we put in preparing was worth it. We also use this time to gather ideas for improvement based on the needs of the attendees.
Last year, at the 55th Annual IEC National Convention & Electric Expo, I was setting up for an educational session, and there was a member requesting to enter the room early. He sat down at a table in the front of the room and begun reviewing notes he had taken from another session earlier in the day. I began a conversation with him by asking if he was receiving useful information, and he looked up at me with a surprisingly stressed look. He said, “Useful information? I received so much that I do not know what idea I am going to implement first. I have three new plans that can revolutionize my company, and I’ve already called my office to let them know to be ready. I just have to make sure to pick the idea that will have the greatest impact.” I smiled and told him I was glad to hear that and went back to setting up the room. He continued to diligently review his notes.
Those words were all that I needed to hear to know that the work we put in was well worth it. I am still kicking myself for not getting the gentleman’s name before the convention ended because his words had a lasting impact on me. I am confident if you ask other IEC staff members, they have an experience similar to mine.
Now, as we prepare for another convention, we do not stress about the workload or the tight deadlines that need to be met. I now embrace the thrill of convention season with the goal of having another conversation like the one I had last year. If every convention attendee has a week in which they received three revolutionary ideas, the staff will have that great feeling that follows a job well done.
As always, if you want the most up-to-date information, stay connected with IEC National by “liking” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/IEC.National, joining our group on LinkedIn, and “following” IEC National (@IEC_National) on Twitter. Also, follow our new company page (Independent Electrical Contractors) on LinkedIn.
Joseph G. Cephas
Vice President of Public Affairs
Follow on Twitter: @JosephCephas