Professional Conferences and Your Career

I just returned from an annual professional conference put on by Career Directors International (focused on the careers industry and resume writers/career coaches in particular). The conference has given me a huge amount of potentially valuable information to increase my business effectiveness and enable me to do an even better job of assisting my clients on their success path.

My head is still spinning from all the information that needs to be absorbed, evaluated, prioritized and (possibly) implemented. Thinking about this caused me to consider the topic of professional conferences and their potential impact on your career. The result is this post, which contains ideas for you to consider in your own situation.

5 Reasons to Consider Professional Conferences

Not all industries and professions have conferences, but if yours does and you haven’t attended any, you might want to give serious thought to doing so. Of course, if your industry or professional conference has a reputation for being a time-waster, you might look at other possibilities that could benefit you professionally. Here are just 5 reasons to consider attending at least one professional conference each year:

  1. Opportunities for learning and growth can abound–not only in the formal sessions and workshops but also in the between-sessions networking that often takes place.
  2. Active engagement and participation can increase your visibility and credibility as a serious professional in your field.
  3. Putting into practice even a few of the gold nuggets you glean from a conference can enable you to negotiate higher compensation from your employer or increase your client revenue over time if you’re self-employed.
  4. You might gain access to potential mentors who would be willing to help you expand your capabilities and advance along your chosen career path more quickly and smoothly than you could do alone.
  5. Conferences often provide a wealth of information about what’s going on in the industry or profession, as well as outside it–long-term trends, troubling developments that bear watching, promising areas that would be worth investigating, and so on.

Challenges that Could Keep You from Attending Professional Conferences

As a long-time conference attender, I can vouch for the fact that it can get expensive in terms of the direct costs associated with the conference–travel, accommodations, conference registration, etc. It can also pose some challenges with regard to taking the time off to attend.

If you’re self-employed, that means you’ll need to find a way to make the conference pay for itself in the results it enables you to achieve for your business. On the other hand, if you’re employed by a company, you’ll need to make a strong case to your employer for the probable benefit to the company of sending you to the conference. In other words, what’s their likely ROI from paying your expenses and managing without you for the required length of time?

Tip: The opportunity to represent your company in a positive manner to others and make connections that can benefit your organization can serve as a compelling argument. Making connections that will help you advance in your career (possibly outside the company) does not!

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