One of the best investments you can make for yourself is attending conferences that are relevant to your industry, and of course, your goals. You must have these two things in place before you decide which conferences would best benefit you.
Having your goals align with your career and passion is highly important if you are trying to be successful in any industry. Any person can work a job, it takes true passion and well-outlined goals to fulfill your true purpose (that’s a whole other blog post).
The task of getting your boss to send you to a conference will vary depending on your company and the position you hold within your organization. In the meantime, here are some areas that you can prepare for and work on before you ask your boss/company/organization to send you to a conference.
Here are the top 5 tips for making this happen for you:
1. Create a list of conferences that you would like to attend
You will want to research the conferences you want to attend to figure out if they are relevant and helpful to what you are trying to achieve. Again, you will have to set goals and know what your main objective is; personal development, networking, gain experience and knowledge, etc.
The first question that your boss may or may not ask depending on your position and company is; How does it align with your day to day job? When researching if the conference seems “off” for what you are currently doing, try to find at least one common topic or similarity that will align with your current position. That will be the common ground that you can build on to pitch this to your boss/company/or organization.
2. Select 2-3 events/conferences so that your boss has options
Sometimes we get fixated on one event that we feel we “must” attend, but having a good list of 2-3 options to present to your boss will be more appealing to them.
It might be that while 2 of the events don’t seem like a good fit, your boss may select the one which is most relevant and/or affordable. Also, selecting local conferences before those out of town might give you better chances of being able to attend. Giving anyone options makes the situation a lot less stressful for both parties.
3. Outline what you will say to your boss and how you will pitch it
One of the best things you can do is outline not only the events you want to go to but also, think about your time off, is the event during work hours or after hours, will this affect your productivity level, etc. Know where you stand with your workload and if you feel your boss would approve the time off.
Also, know about the cost, how much will it cost you and if your company has the budget for it. Being fully prepared is better than not, and knowing your options and availability is also key. Plus, this will help your boss know how serious you are about trying to excel at your job.
4. Prepare to pay for a portion
Again, this depends on your current position and company. Some organizations have money set aside to help their employees with personal or professional development, but just in case they don’t, you should figure out your own finances and if you can afford it. Or maybe your company can pay for a portion of it; then you should be prepared to pay for that amount as well.
In any case, you should be ready for either option and if your company is hesitant on the financial side you can always provide the information, that if they cannot afford to pay for an event entirely even a percentage of it would help you. I have found that when you provide well planned out details, it shows how serious you are about your plans to advance.
5. Know that sometimes you will have to do things on your own
If after all this is said and done, the answer is no, then you should and could always resort to a plan B. You could also seek sponsorships or scholarships to the events/conferences as they are sometimes available. Like every good business plan or entrepreneur have good, well throughout plans for yourself and how you can excel without the help or support of others.
Again, most companies when approached wouldn’t find anything wrong with supporting a good employee. It will all depend on the time of the year and the company’s season. You should be prepared for either a good, strong YES, a maybe, or even a definite No, sorry we can’t. These replies should not disappoint you if you are ready to hear them.
You will ultimately obtain success if you are fully prepared, and you lose nothing by simply asking. My best and most favorable support from an employer came after working for my company for only 7 months, they paid for a portion of a course that I wanted to take and the benefit have been amazing. So, don’t give up, don’t be intimidated and move forward! You can do this.
THE AUTHOR: CONNIE GOMEZ
Connie, better known as Momma of Dos. Born and raised Texan, she grew up in a small town near the Mexican border and moved to Houston in 1999 to attend the University of Houston where she received her Bachelor's in Psychology. She has worked in the non-profit and governmental sectors for most of her career. These days she works around the clock to provide for her little Mexican-American family both in and outside the home. Her family is composed of her Husband who is also a University of Houston graduate and "Dos" amazing, children; Camila, 6 years old and Santiago, 8.