Have you ever asked your boss about attending an industry conference…only to be tuned down?
Or found a conference that really interests you but you're hesitant to ask your boss about going?
Viewpoints on the benefits of attending an industry conference can vary significantly.
Your boss may be very open to the idea.
Many bosses will view your interest in a very positive light. They will be encouraged to see you proactively seeking new opportunities for professional development.
Others may not be so sure. Some will be skeptical of the benefits. Many will have concerns about budget constraints and workload issues. Add to that the pressures of other things on their mind and you could find yourself in a tangle of obstacles.
Much of their decision will come down to how you present the idea.
If you take it seriously and genuinely believe there is a benefit to you and ultimately the company you will have a much better chance of getting a “yes”.
Nothing will make them more doubtful than you coming to them with a cursory idea of what the event is all about. If your intent is to get away from the office for a few days and to squeeze in a little sight seeing, they will see right through.
Show them this is important to you by presenting a well thought out proposal.
The key is preparation. Ensure you are as familiar as possible with event details and be ready to answer any questions he/she might have.
First a few things to consider:
Is this an event for your industry or in support of your functional expertise? Example. Your company is in Insurance. You are the Sales Manager. Is the conference for the insurance industry or is it a conference for sales professionals?
If the conference is for the industry that your company serves, your boss will likely be familiar with it. You may have to give more background if the conference is related to your particular function.
Here is a plan for your best chance at getting a “Yes”.
Choose the right event.
Pick the right time to talk to your boss
Do your research. Here are some things to know:
Have the facts at your fingertips:
Be prepared to articulate the benefits to you
Will there be benefits you can share with colleagues or the company as a whole?
Do you have feedback from others who have attended the conference in the past?
How will you report back?
Letting your boss know you are prepared to report back is a great sign that you respect the investment and time away.
Provide assurance your work will be covered
It is important that you acknowledge you have thought through the impact of your time away.
Prepare a detailed budget
Demonstrate your understanding that there can be much more to the overall cost of attending a conference than just the registration fee.
Value input and discussion from your boss
All of this detail may not come up in the conversation but the best thing you can do is to be prepared. Don’t get caught stumbling for answers - you will seem not to be taking it seriously.
Your best chance for success is to show you understand this is a business decision.
Be confident. The preparation will make you so.
Your boss may want time to consider your request. If so, ask if you can schedule a time to talk about it again. Follow through with confidence.
Despite all of your efforts, your boss may say “no”. You’ll have to accept that.
Ideally they will explain their reasons...but might not. Keep in mind you don’t know everything they are dealing with. They may have had previous bad experiences with conference-goers, may have other plans for you or may have someone else in mind to attend.
If the answer is no. Don’t argue. Suggest budgeting for someone to go next time. Let your boss know you’ll follow up with someone who attended to get their feedback so you’ll know for another time.
If the answer is yes. Great!
Whatever you do, be very certain to prepare for your time away as indicated. And follow up on all of your promises of reporting back. Make your report practical with examples of realistic opportunities and actionable items.
Whatever the outcome, if you have prepared well you will leave your boss with a positive impression. You will have demonstrated your interest and openness to professional development. They will be impressed and that you have treated the opportunity seriously and understand the investment involved.
And that could lead to other opportunities down the road.
Post by Margaret Johnston, eventswork.com
As a career event professional, Margaret brings valuable insight and knowledge to the recruitment,
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