Last month, I updated you on how the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) is using the Internet to improve communications, education and networking. I think it’s clear I’m proud of my association’s leadership in this area. Nevertheless, I am glad there still are venues in which communication, education and networking are conducted up close and personal, face-to-face and hands on.

In October, the venue will be the new Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, the setting for the 2010 NECA national convention and trade show. Hopefully, NECA members will enjoy catching up on association news, hearing dynamic speakers, learning new management skills, and seeing old friends and making new ones. But I think NECA 2010 Boston offers something for every electrical industry participant, regardless of affiliation.

How often do electrical contractors, large and small, assemble in one place to meet other contractors from all over the country and beyond as well as the people essential to our success—manufacturers, distributors, utility representatives, inventors, consultants and engineers? Simply experiencing our industry coming together for a once-a-year event of this magnitude is thrilling in and of itself.

In addition, there’s valuable learning to be had through the Pre-Convention and Technical Workshops that are available to all NECA Show registrants and at the management seminars for conventioneers. And, of course, if you really want to see, touch and develop a useful understanding of the latest innovations in tools, system controls, software, vehicles and the like, you just have to be there.

Needless to say, a lot of people who care about success in the electrical contracting industry certainly will be there. I hope you are among them, and I hope you don’t come alone.

This year, NECA launched the Contractors Challenge to encourage member contractors to set up a program to enable their employees to participate in the educational and networking opportunities coming up this fall. The idea is for NECA-member companies to establish an employee-performance recognition program and reward the winners with a trip to NECA 2010 Boston.

NECA’s national organization is assisting by providing tips and suggestions on employee-selection criteria for contractors and discounts (where applicable) on registration fees and hotel costs for their employees. First-time attendees will be welcomed at a special orientation session in Boston.

The Contractors Challenge is not being micromanaged. Employers are free to customize their own program and evaluate workers on what matters to them—productivity, training/certification achieved, safety performance, teamwork—any measurable behavior or activity that benefits their firm.

I proposed the Contractors Challenge because the success of my company is a direct result of the things I learned at past NECA events, and I am convinced that other electrical contractors can enjoy similar results. In this regard, I think it’s a good investment to send our young people to the NECA Convention and Show. The training our people get at the convention just isn’t available anywhere else, and it gives me a chance to reward them for working hard throughout the year.

But, as I told my fellow NECA contractors, sending employees to NECA 2010 Boston isn’t just a way to motivate and reward them; it’s a direct benefit to your company, since these employees will bring what they learn back home and apply it on the job. They’ll also talk about the experience with their co-workers, which can be a great morale booster throughout the company. They will be more satisfied with their jobs, learn how to work more efficiently, and become invested in your company’s overall success—becoming just the kind of people you want working for you. Everyone wins!

Of course, everyone who attends NECA 2010 Boston will come away a winner, too. NECA 2010 Boston will feature an expanded Energy Solutions Zone with new “building green” resources on the show floor and related professional development opportunities focused on renewable solutions. There will be more programs for line contractors than ever before, including forward-thinking presentations on the smart grid and other innovations and special safety sessions. In fact, every element on the agenda is intended to help all participants make change work to the advantage of their companies, regardless of what branch of the industry they occupy—changes in the economy, changes in technology, changes in the business environment, and changes in customer demands.

That’s why you should give your company the NECA 2010 Boston advantage. Visit www.necaconvention.org today, and register yourself and your key employees.