For those who know me, my love for conferences and trade shows is no secret. Conferences and trade shows are my favorite ways to expand my knowledge and simultaneously increase my personal network. Growing your knowledge and network is vital for your career because challenges at work are never ending. Professionals need to remain at the forefront of the current trends, the latest technology, revisions to standards, etc., and they should develop a network so that they can rely on peers for trustworthy advice, recommendations, shared experiences, guidance, references and more.

Next month, May 2024, is providing not one but two opportunities for quality practitioners and continuous improvement professionals to gather together, face-to-face, for knowledge sharing and networking! The Quality Show South will be held May 1-2 in Nashville, TN. This show provides buyers and users of quality software and measurement, inspection, and testing equipment a one-stop-shop for the latest software, tools, gages, innovations and technology used by inspectors, quality technicians, quality engineers and higher-ups.

Not only will The Quality Show South host many of the leading providers of quality software and measurement & test equipment but this event will also provide a keynote presentation, a learning theater, two networking receptions, and a morning mingle & breakfast! Networking opportunities abound! But The Quality Show South is not just for professionals in the manufacturing sector. The show also provides benefits to professionals in other sectors in need of Lean and Six Sigma software, management system software, information on standards, consulting services, and quality related publications.

The Quality Show provides the greatest value available to quality professionals because the event is free with advanced registration! Where else can one meet with over 100 vendors, attend receptions, and see keynote addresses all for no cost? I have attended this show many times in Chicago and have always come away thoroughly impressed and satisfied. I am very much looking forward to visiting the venue in Nashville and expecting, once again, to be blown away by a fantastic event. I hope to see you there.

After my trip to Nashville, I will return home and do laundry in order to jump on a plane and attend the greatest quality conference on Earth, ASQ’s World Conference on Quality and Improvement (WCQI). This year’s event will be in San Diego May 12-15, 2024. This is truly a global event as many attendees are from outside the United States and Canada. This will be my 25th WCQI and I know it will not disappoint - it never has.

WCQI offers a lot for both novice quality professionals as well as seasoned continuous improvement experts. The conference kicks off with a Sunday evening networking reception in the exhibit hall allowing one to mingle with other attendees while also interacting with the numerous conference sponsors. There is very little overlap between the WCQI sponsors and Quality Show exhibitors so between these two events you are provided the opportunity to meet with all the major suppliers of quality related software, educational resources, publications, consulting services, ISO certifications, measurement & test equipment, etc.

After the reception, the next two and a half days provide multiple keynote speakers and over 100 breakout sessions. ASQ does a great job of bringing in keynote presenters both within and outside of the quality profession, all of whom are excellent, informative and entertaining speakers. The breakout sessions allow one to pick-and-choose topics that most interest them so there is something for everyone. Where else can one hear about how an organization successfully transformed its culture and then attend a session on how a statistical software package was used to simplify a company’s Lean Six Sigma program? In most cases, session speakers are WCQI attendees thus allowing you to make a personal connection with them sometime during the conference.

There is an old saying “There is no such a thing as a free lunch,” but amazingly lunches are included with your WCQI registration. These “free” lunches provide yet another opportunity to network in a social atmosphere. You never know who you will meet; it could be another attendee, a speaker, a conference sponsor or exhibitor, or even someone on ASQ’s staff. Last year, by chance, I met someone from my own company whose office was over 500 miles away from mine.

For me, the best part about WCQI is the opportunity to meet with other ASQ Fellows and other member leaders from around the world. Volunteering one’s time is very personal so networking with like-minded people and being able to share our stories, struggles and successes is therapeutic. ASQ members can meet the member leaders of the ASQ Divisions they belong to thus providing them the opportunity to network with those in similar roles and industries.

When faced with the decision on whether to attend The Quality Show South or ASQ’s World Conference on Quality and Improvement, for me it was not “either/or” but “both.” The time invested into self-development and networking will quickly be recouped. If you are not as fortunate as I and must choose which event to attend, I can guarantee that you made the right choice.