I'm happy to say I’ve lived through HVAC Comfortech. After my first one, I was overwhelmed with so much new information (most of which I "thought" I knew!) that I half hoped for another HVAC Comfortech the next month.

But of course, the show is an annual event. At the rate of learning you’ll do, a year is a good time to let it soak in, I promise.

Now that I’ve been to four of these mammoth no-holds-barred learn-a-thons, I’m not exactly a veteran, but I have picked up some pointers. In fact, I have a list of things you can avoid as well.

  • Don’t hang out in the cafeteria. First of all, after about noon the coffee can double as Walnut stain. Second, the only people you’ll meet here are those who fail to understand that this is an event to be absorbed, not simply observed from a plastic chair.
  • At the trade show, don’t waste your time and that of a vendor whose products are honestly of no value to you. Let them speak to the people tapping their feet behind you who are secretly wishing you’d be airlifted elsewhere.
  • Don’t scream, "I can’t afford it” loud enough to get the attention of Security. Instead, gather enough useful information about how a product benefits you beforehand and listen with an open mind. The point of HVAC Comfortech is that the products and services pay you handsomely in time, convenience, and pure financial gains. The smartest business people invest wisely therein.
  • Don’t snore in seminars, especially mine. There are many talented speakers who come to share a gold mine of information. All you do is show up and listen! People who doze in my seminars may be subject to the "shaving cream and tickle trick." Don’t ask.
  • Don’t collect dozens of free stuffed toys, logo pens and yo-yos just so you can give them to your kids when you get home. Kids are smarter than that (And please, leave some for me, if you don’t mind.)

However, to fully appreciate and profit from your attendance at HVAC Comfortech, I urge you to:

  • Review the seminars and times they're being offered. Decide — mostly in advance — which ones you will not miss. If schedules don’t permit your attendance, make sure someone in your group goes. This way, you gain the most knowledge in the least time.
  • Check out the vendor list. Get company information online, or by mail before you attend. If it fits with your business goals, circle the ones you won’t miss. Believe me, at my second Comfortech, I missed an opportunity to meet someone that I still kick myself over. He was 10 ft. from me but I didn't know it because I am, well, not smart, and failed to check the vendor listing in the catalog.
  • Reserve time for "optionals." You've got to make some contacts and do a little networking at an event like this. I made one of my best contacts ever over a bag of popcorn while walking the aisles. And I'm not exactly Mr. Social either. We just happened to share an interest in a product, which led to an idea exchange, which has led to a friendship and considerable business for both of us. Also schedule some time to see the vast beauty of St. Louis.
  • Bring plenty of business cards. I can't tell you how many times I've seen contractors reach into empty pockets, vainly searching for the card that's not there. Then they write their info on a scrap of paper. Boy, that's impressive. Look — this event is made for information exchange, so be ready by bringing enough cards.
  • Bring comfortable shoes. Sure, those $400 Italian loafers are mighty snazzy, but visiting a St. Louis podiatrist should not be on your list of local attractions. You’ll be moving around — mostly by foot — while there. Be comfortable.
  • Have fun. There’s plenty of fun time planned for cocktail receptions, entertainment diversions, and just plain sharing coffee with other attendees. Come ready to shake the cobwebs off old ideas, be willing to accept a brighter angle, and have a good time. No, make that a great time.

Two Lame Excuses for Not Attending

Count the costs: As a business owner, I'm not in love with overhead either. I pay my own way each time and I can tell you, without any hesitation whatsoever, that the rewards of HVAC Comfortech have been immeasurable. I was not paid to write that. If spending a few hundred dollars that can enrich you by millions over your life is holding you back, then you need to come. You're exactly ripe for learning and earning from this mega-event. Staying home and saving that money won't change one thing about your business. Coming will.

Count the time: Yep, you'll spend two or three days here. Let's see, if you come across just one product or service that saves time or makes money (there will be dozens of them!), then your three-day visit will pay you for years. I can't "spare the time" either, but I make the time because in the end, one new idea learned makes it back for me.

Bottom Line: HVAC Comfortech is an investment in you, your company, your employees — and to a great extent — your freedom. Could be financial freedom. Could be finding a way to have more time with your family. Could be more leisure time. Could be the key to unlocking that last element to your business success. But you’ll never know if you don’t come. Hope to see you there.

Adams Hudson is president of Hudson Ink, a contractor marketing firm. He'll be conducting a marketing seminar at HVAC Comfortech 2007 on September 26-29 in St. Louis. His company offers turn-key marketing solutions for contractors for lead generation, image, branding, publishes newsletters and offers Monthly Marketing Coaching. Call 800/489-9099, fax to 334/262-1115 or visitwww.hudsonink.comfor free marketing articles and reports.