Following  GCA’s 75th Annual Convention last month, I sat down with some of our members to share my thoughts  about the presentations, the networking events, and the people. We were fortunate to have some of the smartest, likeable, amazing people join us in New Orleans! It’s yet another reason I continue to say that there’s something special about the GCA. Part of the Convention’s success was no doubt due to great planning (a well-deserved pat on the back goes to our Convention co-chairs and headquarters team!). And as I’ve said, our attendees are the greatest.

But there’s more to it. Some amazing things often happen, in between the things we plan! Case in point:  I was in a session on day three, several hours into the programming that day, when a group of participants abruptly changed the subject of the conversation during a  Q&A period. What was the new topic? How this association just happened to attract this particular group of business leaders and owners in one room, all of whom were willing to share some very valuable insights  with some who might be deemed competitors. This simply does NOT happen in most trade associations.

For what seemed like about 10 minutes, this group shared their perspectives on just how unique the GCA Convention is,  how fortunate they were that they decided  to travel to New Orleans, and in many cases, how the GCA has helped  build their business and their network over many months and years. Hey, I’m the Executive Director, so I LOVE to hear things like this! But that fact that I had absolutely nothing to do with this conversation happening (it just happened!) makes me even more proud to be a part of the GCA.

Bottom line: it’s the quality of the people, the trusting relationships that GCA members and staff nurture over many years, and the fact that each person is willing to share their insights, issues and solutions, that makes the GCA such a valuable resource for its members. So many industry leaders know, as Leanin’ Tree’s Tom Trumble says, “a rising greeting card ship lifts all greeting card boats”  and that we are preserving  an art form that has  a proud past and an exciting future. Who knows what you’ll learn  at our next event in Atlanta (mid-January at AmericasMart).  There’s only one way to find out!

Peter Doherty, CAE is Executive Director of the Greeting Card Association. Follow him on LinkedIn or Twitter.