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Make It Happen Tipsheet
Career Management and Life Balance

Conventional Wisdom

When someone says "annual convention", what do you think about? For some, this term brings to mind party hats, boring speakers, and eating great meals on the company's tab. For career winners, the exact opposite is true. Whether it is called a convention, conference, or trade show, it really is a place of great career opportunity - if you view it as such.

Most events are designed to bring a critical mass of people and companies together in a common community of interest. Every person (and every company) is there because they are looking to buy, sell, hire, learn, or build their network. And this is why these events are critical components in your career planning strategy. The benefits of attending are huge:

  • Develop your network: Meet new people and develop stronger bonds with those you already know.
  • Learn an industry: Particularly if the industry is new to you, or you are thinking of making a change.
  • Bring back knowledge: Increase your value by sharing what you've learned with your colleagues.
  • Develop perspective: Think about work issues without the daily pressures and deadlines.
  • Learn about new products and services: Trade shows let you talk to sales reps without immediate obligation.

To really develop value, consider these strategies:

  • Network: Pre-schedule meetings with people who you know will attend - or you would like to meet.
  • Learn the industry: Prepare a report on the industry's key issues and trends, culled from speaker presentations and discussions with others.
  • Bring back knowledge: Write a trip report summarizing what you've learned, then share it with your colleagues.
  • Develop perspective: Before the event, write down your most pressing problems, and attend sessions that might shed light on them. At the end of the event, consider the problems afresh; you'll likely know what to do.
  • Learn about new products and services: Scan the event's web site, and note any exhibitors whose products look interesting. Print out the floor map, noting the location of the exhibitor's booth.

This week's action item: Identify a major event that meets corporate goals as well as your personal developmental needs, then build a case to attend. If your organization won't invest in your attendance, spend your own money to go. The value, just from networking alone, is yours for years to come.


Make It Happen Tipsheet
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Copyright © 2007 Knowledge to Action Press and Randall Craig. All rights reserved.

Publication Date: May 29, 2007

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