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Continuing education is a very important within any industry. It helps employees stay updated with current trends and methods which can ideally help their employers make more money. But while some employers know the importance of sending their employees to conferences to keep them on their “A” game, other employers aren’t as gracious.
This is due partly because some managers feel as though their employees will use the time as a “free vacation,” not a learning experience. But that’s not always the case. Some employees legitimately want to expand their knowledge and attending a conference or workshop can accomplish this, as well as boost productivity and performance.
My first job was a cops and courts reporter at a small metropolitan newspaper in Montana. Every year, the design team would go to Las Vegas for a conference (took photos of all their shenanigans) while the writers worked all day, struggling to find new and creative ways to present their stories. Finally, a small group of us “senior” writers couldn’t take it anymore and we requested that we be sent to a conference too. To learn how we convinced our employer, continue reading below.
Do your Own Research
First and foremost you’re going to have to do your own research. This includes but not limited to finding conferences and workshops that are specifically designed to teach you what you want to learn. A simple Google search can help you accomplish this. It’s also best to calculate an estimated total cost per head (flight plus conference tickets and hotel accommodations). You also need to find departure dates that won’t conflict with important work-related tasks or projects.
It would be wise to find a few options (around three) instead of printing out a long list of conferences around the country so that you can focus your attention on just a few. You’ll also want to find at least one conference that is relatively close—like in your city or state—so that if your employer tries to argue travel costs are too expensive to send you to Las Vegas for example, there’s a cheaper alternative.
Make a Pitch
Finding a conference is only the tip of the iceberg. You actually have to convince your boss how attending a conference will benefit not only you, but most importantly the company. You need to argue that the skills you hope to learn will be profitable for your employer. You also need to make a case for why you specifically (or you team) should be the one to go. Have you been there the longest and are arguing seniority? Is your team one of the most important in the workplace? Are you the best at networking? Help your boss see the bigger picture.
Validate your Loyalty
Last but not least you need to assure your employer that you’re not going to use the new skills you’ll learn for a “competitor” any time soon. Some employers don’t like to send their employees to workshops because they fear they’ll quit and just help another rival company grow. Squash any insecurity by giving your word that you will stay loyal to the company. If your employer wants something stronger, consider signing a contract. Most contracts more or less say that you’re not allowed to leave the company within one year (or whatever time frame the two of you agree on).
Going to a conference at least once a year can reap many benefits for you and your employer. If your boss doesn’t really understand the point or constantly sends other teams to conferences and not yours, there’s nothing that a little preparation and a good pitch can’t solve.
This guest post is brought to you by Mariana Ashley, a prolific blogger who provides web content to a number of blogs and websites. She’s most interested in providing guidance to prospective college students who wish to attend online colleges in Montana. When she’s not writing or researching online education trends, she enjoys riding her horse, George, and spending quality time with her four nieces. Mariana welcomes your questions and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.