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Conferences – Worth More Than a Day Out of the Office

September 11, 2019

By Susan Chance, courtesy SBAM Approved Partner ASE

We are all so busy at work that many days it is difficult to get away for a lunch break, so thinking about taking a full day or more off to attend a conference may seem impractical – perhaps even impossible. However, there are many benefits that come from attending conferences. Today’s world is ever changing at a rapid pace. Conferences are a great way to learn what’s new in your line of business.

There is something about face to face interaction that teleconferencing just can’t touch. While technology helps us in many ways, the personal connection that gets lost in electronics abounds at conferences, and the networking opportunities are gold! You can develop great working relationships over the phone, but meeting in person, seeing that other person eye to eye and shaking hands takes things to a deeper level. Getting to know others in your line of work can give you a support system. Having others to bounce ideas off of, to share experiences with, or to talk through a problem is more helpful when that network understands your business.

How many of you have met new people from your network because one of your current contacts introduced you to a co-worker or vendor? If you stay in your office, you miss those opportunities. The person you meet today can be your client, your mentor, your vendor, or your co-worker tomorrow. Don’t overlook the opportunities to talk with vendors. One of those companies may have the solution to a problem you have been struggling with.

Your professional growth opportunities are not limited to the keynotes and breakout sessions. Getting out to a new place and meeting new people can be challenging for many. Networking at conferences can help to gain confidence in speaking with new people. This can make one nervous at first, especially for the introverts out there. However, the more people you interact with, the easier it becomes.

If you have an existing network who will be at the same conference, or if you develop a new network, make sure to connect after the conference. Last year was the first time I attended the National Association of Professional Background Screeners conference, and I got to meet a lot of people in person who were previously just voices on the other end of the phone. A few of us have a monthly networking call. I found our call after the conference interesting. While there were many things we all recalled from our experience, there were things that each of us as individuals picked up on more than others. By sharing our experiences, we were able to multiply the benefits of attending the conference.

Getting away to a new place can also be refreshing. We spend most of our waking hours at work and looking at the same walls every day can be detrimental to our creativity. Even if you are not in a traditionally creative job, we all need creativity for things like problem solving. A Stanford study showed that creativity is increased by an average of 60% while walking. We don’t move much at our desks; however, a conference in an unfamiliar place invites us to walk and explore when we can. Even if you stay in the conference venue you can walk inside as the study showed that walking indoors gives a similar boost to creativity as walking outdoors.

Attending conferences can increase our creativity, knowledge, and confidence, and these are just some of the benefits. Your company and your employees can benefit from attendance.

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