This June, I was happy to see readers in person at the annual Government Fleet Expo & Conference (GFX) in New Orleans. I saw lots of new faces, as well as lots of our long-time attendees.
Everyone has different expectations when they attend a conference. I find that if you have a goal, it is much easier to find value in any event. Here are five ways fleet professionals can approach GFX, or any conference.
For the Networking
This is one of the biggest reasons people say they attend GFX.
Those new to the fleet industry, if they aren’t shy about approaching people, can make connections with some of the most well-known professionals in the public fleet industry. Or they can get the contact information of someone who has had their same challenge and learn from this person’s experience. I’ve found that public fleet veterans often enjoy passing along knowledge.
For the Awards
Fleet management is a little-known profession. It doesn’t have the glamour of being a firefighter or the visibility of being a police officer, so fleet professionals often don’t get the recognition they deserve.
That’s why The Honors Celebration at GFX is so important. Who else would understand the complexities of switching to a new fuel management system, or the success of finally getting an incentive pay program in place for technicians? Your peers do, and being judged and recognized by them is powerful.
For the Education
GFX provides educational sessions specifically for the public fleet industry, taught by people who’ve been there and done that. Whether they’re consultants, industry suppliers, or fleet managers, they’re knowledgeable about their topics.
Some of my favorite moments at GFX involve attendees’ excitement at certain educational sessions. A young man approached me and asked where he could get a copy of a presenter’s PowerPoint, because it was so useful for him. Another told me a session dealt with a topic his city manager had asked him to look into, and what he learned there paid for the entire trip.
For the Services & Technology
Most fleet managers can pick up the phone and ask any sales person any question at any (reasonable) time.
But at GFX, the biggest, most important companies providing vehicles, services, and technologies to the industry are literally in one giant room. Walk 10 steps away and learn something new, no calls needed.
I know you’re not there to have fun. You are there to bring something back to your fleet, to learn new ideas and vet certain technologies.
But if you’ve been attending for a couple of years and you know a few people you don’t get to see otherwise, it can be quite fun. And even if it’s your first time or you’re not very outgoing, the networking events and Night on the Town and the chance to meet new friends who actually understand what you do — it can be an enjoyable experience. We hope so, at least.
Reaching Your Goals
One of my goals was to connect with attendees and learn what their current challenges are. I’d say I succeeded, and I hope you were able to do the same with your goals.
How do you ensure that any conference you attend will be a successful one?