As a print service provider, you are constantly looking for ways to improve your business. The industry is in a state of massive transformation – but it is far from "dead," like many today would argue. However, although the printing market is alive and well, distributors must still be strategic and persistent in their business growth strategies. Fortunately, there are many ways that print providers can capitalize on the very lucrative market and propel their organizations forward to sustainability and success. One of the most useful yet often overlooked, though, is one that some haven't considered before: attending live printing conferences and events.

It's no news that, as a print services business, staying relevant in a world that has seemingly become overrun with digital technologies and alternatives requires a certain degree of innovation, adaptation and engagement. You must stay on top of emerging trends and ahead of competitors and employ an agile and flexible business model that allows you to adjust and make improvements where and whenever needed. However, it is important to realize that an aspect of gaining a competitive advantage is to collaborate with others in your field.

The crucial role live events play in the world of print business was recently highlighted by WhatTheyThink's Jennifer Matt. In this piece, Matt examined the many ways in which attending conferences, discussions and other types of gathering can benefit print providers, such as the following:

1. They provide a new, fresh perspective
Too often, business leaders tend to get lost in the day-to-day tasks and responsibilities of keeping their organizations afloat. We get so wrapped up in keeping our heads down and doing what needs to get done that we lose sight of the big picture. As Matt pointed out, attending live events is a great incentive (and excuse) for print distributors to actually step away from their daily work lives and look at their business from a different vantage point.

Of course, grinding away at the tedious, intricate and meticulous details of operations and processes is a necessary evil of making a business successful. However, also important is making sure every now and then you take a step back to consider a new perspective. This, at the very least, allows you to see different areas of your business that you could be improving but hadn't noticed before. 

Furthermore, Matt explained that the simple act of having to physically show up to a live event can offer some insight into how the management of your business is going.

"If you can't leave your business for a planned day or two without constant communication and remote management it says a lot about how much you're working in your business vs. on your business," Matt argued.

2. They present opportunity to build stronger relationships
Establishing a network of professional relationships is an invaluable tool for print businesses. Building strong, meaningful connections with vendors and peers can help give providers a competitive advantage and let them uncover strategies and solutions for success that would have otherwise been unavailable.

One of the advantages of attending live events in the printing industry is that you interact with people face-to-face. This is a nice change from the quick, digital and often impersonal interactions we are used to having today. Being in a room with other industry professionals facilitates a more engaging and collaborative environment because people aren't able to hide behind their screens and mobile devices.

Matt said that, in her experience, this has led to many lively discussions and conversations that ultimately generate more relevant, useful and valuable relationships. A common complaint many businesses have today is that there is a lack of efficient communication between partners due to the electronic barrier that makes some parties unresponsive. But, with in-person events, you have access to real people, right in front of you, who can offer immediate assistance.

3. They enable you to grow and learn
Most live events and conferences are designed around sharing information and providing insight into the state of the industry, as well as emerging trends. By attending, print professionals are able to get a better idea of not only where their businesses are right now compared to others, but what direction the market is headed in.

The conversations are built around collaboration and learning. You may find that many other organizations are also struggling with the same challenges you are – or, perhaps, come across someone who can offer you an effective way to overcome a persistent issue.

At the end of the day, excelling in any area of business requires you to get involved and to stay engaged. Live events are a way for print service providers to ensure they are staying on top of industry trends, building a talented network of partners and applying the most effective strategies and solutions that ensure the long-term success and sustainability of their organizations.

Where to start
If you are looking for upcoming events and conferences in the printing industry, it is highly recommended you check out Printing Impressions' event calendar. Keep in mind that while some of these gatherings may require you to purchase a ticket, the value of what you could receive from attending far outweighs that initial price tag. 

Furthermore, to ensure you get the most return on investment and value from attending a print industry event, make sure that, when you are there, you are as present as possible. True engagement is about more than simply showing up. As Matt suggested, remember that print partnerships should be a mutually beneficial engagement, so approach each conversation asking what you can do for them, rather than just what they can do to help you.