I hope you are making plans to attend NECA 2012 Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay this fall, and I hope you are not planning to come alone.

NECA encourages contractors to send their employees to our annual convention and trade show. The idea is to expose them to information, education and networking opportunities they can’t receive anywhere else. It’s a direct benefit to your company because they will bring what they learn back home and apply it on the job. It’s also a good way to reward and further motivate your best performers—the kind who can inspire other staff members. These are all good reasons to bring them.

There is another reason that is particularly compelling this year: there’s simply too much going on for one person to be able to take it all in!

If you bring a colleague (or a few), you each can attend different educational sessions and then get back together and compare notes and subsequently pass the learning around in your company. NECA’s convention planners offer this example: “If your firm is expanding into one or more of the alternative-energy markets, then attend the Energy Solutions track, or send one of your colleagues to cover the information while you attend Management tracks. And, make sure your safety professionals attend the Safety track.”

About those tracks—NECA has categorized the strategies, best practices and technical updates that will be presented by the industry’s leading experts into five distinct groups. Each theme runs from Pre-Convention Workshops to the Management Seminars to the Technical Workshops on the NECA Show floor. These are the five tracks:

• Electrical—This track covers on-the-job technology and best practices related to industry issues, such as prefabrication, significant Code changes, measuring power consumption, new tool technology, leveraging building information modeling (BIM), and more.

• Energy Solutions—The intense focus on alternative-energy opportunities is not limited to the 2012 NECAEnergy Forum but is also conveyed through sessions on the smart grid; solar/photovoltaics; the vast market for lighting and controls retrofits; NECAWORKS, a screening tool for energy solutions projects; electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE); and other topics.

• Line Construction—Sessions of specific interest to outside contractors address electrical grid improvements, smart meters, broadband technology, distributing power from renewable sources nationwide, and safe work best practices—all the latest information and updates they need as the line industry takes an expanded role.

• Management—These sessions are all about the leadership skills and knowledge you and your key management staff need in order to contribute more effectively to increasing sales, reducing expenses and improving organizational effectiveness within your company.

• Safety—In addition to the Safety Forum, Pre-Convention Workshops and several other sessions are geared toward safety professionals and safety conscious contractors. These presentations deal with OSHA enforcement, NFPA 70E compliance updates, safety through design, lightning protection advances and more.

In other words, NECA 2012 Las Vegas offers a vast array of educational options, so you’ll need to choose wisely. Check out all your options at www.necaconvention.org. Also, take a look at the NECA Notes section (page 105) in this issue for more on some of your choices, details on the a la carte menu, and information on the weekend package deals that can enable you to make the best use of your time at Mandalay Bay while minimizing your time away from the office.

And don’t forget: The NECAShow, the largest and most important show in the industry, offers thousands of options from more than 250 of the industry’s leading suppliers. Therefore, you will need to plan in order to make the most of your time at the exposition. It helps to have colleagues along to assist in checking out all those products and services, to ensure that you don’t miss anything to enhance your company’s capabilities.

Maybe you can assign different individuals with different job functions to explore various sections of the show floor in-depth. (By the way, this is just the type of mission of exploration for which Twitter was invented!) However, I recommend that each of you visit the NECAShowstopper Showcase.

The people who make up your company represent a variety of job functions, talents and interests. NECA 2012 Las Vegas offers countless opportunities appealing to diverse segments of our industry. There is something for everyone!

So, when your team gets there, spread out. Then regroup. Review what you’ve learned. And determine how to use it to revitalize your firm. Taking the team approach to attending NECA 2012 Las Vegas multiplies the benefits.