Last week, I attended the 49th Annual Convention of the International Franchise Association.  I have been attending the IFA for over 20 years now and I always learn new things while making new friends and being reconnected with friends I have known for a very long time.  Yes, this year, as expected, there was a lot of buzz about the economy.   Kicking off the convention, I sat among over 2000 attendees, leaned forward, listening to every word former President Bill Clinton spoke referring to the much debated stimulus package being launched from our government in hopes of spurring our economy.  No doubt, political viewpoints varied across the audience, but you could have heard a pin drop as we gave respect for the former president and remained very interested in his viewpoint.  Former President Clinton, also carried a message of hope.  He reminded us that this is not the first time the US has faced an economic downturn, nor is it likely to be the last.  However, America still stands strong, and  we will get through this perhaps, even stronger than before. We must act and we must continue to believe in our great country.  He stressed the important role that small business owners and franchising play in getting our country back on track. These weren’t his exact words, but that is what I took to heart.  His words made me feel good about being a small business owner and about being involved in franchising.

Throughout the convention, there was also a great amount of talk concerning what we CAN do to move business forward and to grow.  Clearly, the world is changing and business owners must become adept at making the right changes in all areas.  The topic of Social Media Marketing and Blogging was one that created the most positive buzz!  What was it?  Why does it work?  Why is is so powerful?  How do I do it?  Why is it helpful?  All of these were questions that prompted discussion after discussion. Discussions during panels and discussions throughout the informal networking that always occurs in the hallways, over coffee, and during dinners.

I smiled because 20 years ago, discussions were taking place about needing to be sure every business had a fax machine. Fifteen years ago, the topic was about the need for EVERY employee to have access to a computer.  Ten years ago…”How to Establish a Web Presence”.  Five Years ago…Email Marketing. And now, Social Media Marketing and Blogging. Yes, I moved through all of the changes.  I got the fax machine, computer, website, email campaigns, and now as you can see, I am blogging!

The topics vary over the years but they all have one thing in common.  In business and if life, better ways to communicate and connect will always be needed in our society.  It is good for business and it is good for the human spirit!