What’s your opinion of attending conferences, seminars, and industry workshops? Do you see them as a networking opportunity, a day out at the company’s expense, a valuable learning opportunity, or something to be endured because your boss thinks you should attend?
The Career-Boosting Value of Conferences
Perhaps you are an employee wondering why you should attend conferences or a leader contemplating the value of sponsoring attendance. Either way, with the right mindset employed, conferences can be instrumental in expanding your company’s awareness of latest industry developments. Your personal attendance at conferences can also boost your own supply chain knowledge and perhaps enhance your career.
Of course, if you are a sponsoring leader, the last thing you want is for your employee to come back from a conference and tell you she’s been offered a better job. But if that should happen on the odd occasion, it’s a small drawback when compared with the many benefits of attending conferences, five of which I thought worth sharing in this post.
1. Boost Supply Chain Knowledge
Perhaps the most valuable reason to attend conferences is the fact that there is direct educational value in doing so. Conference speakers are typically at the forefront of their field. The information they share with you is cutting edge, not copied from a text book. Attending conferences can boost your supply chain knowledge beyond the reach of academia, giving you information that you can use to solve real world challenges faced by your company.
2. A Change Really is as Good as a Rest
A conference is no holiday, but it is a perfect opportunity to rest your mind from the day-to-day, to step back and look, listen, and think from a different perspective for a day or two. It is, as Stephen Covey would say, a chance to “sharpen the saw”. Many conference delegates feel refreshed after attending conferences and look forward to taking new ideas and concepts back to the workplace.
3. Great Networking Opportunities
You never know who you might bump into at a conference, but one thing you can be sure of; there’ll be no end of opportunities to meet people in your industry. Once you get talking (and it’s important that you do mingle and socialise), you’ll start to learn things from people and at the same time, help others by sharing your own knowledge. Of course, if you are an employee, there is always that possibility of a new career door or two being opened too–and sometimes moving to a new organisation can be the right way to boost your career.
4. Learn About New Products and Services
Most conferences have at least a few suppliers and service providers’ booths or tables. By browsing around between speaking sessions, you can learn a lot about new products and services that may be of interest to your organisation. Even if your company’s not planning on making any purchases or taking advantage of new services, the information that you gather may be useful later on in your supply chain career.
5. Have Some Fun
You know what they say about all work and no play. Apart from the valuable opportunities to boost your supply chain knowledge, get educated about the latest trends or practices, and gain access to industry experts, attending conferences can be fun, especially those which include some recreational activity for delegates.
Remember to Spread the Knowledge
As an educational activity, conferences hold a lot of value, both from the employee perspective and at the corporate level. However, it’s important to remember that conference tickets are rarely cheap and that employers expect to gain some direct returns on the expenditure.
Whether you present what you learned at a management meeting or put a summary of key takeaways on your company intranet, you should make a point of sharing conference content with those who were not able to intend. By doing so, you ensure that you’re giving back to your organization and generating organisational as well as personal value from your attendance. It’s also a great way to show appreciation to the sponsor who made your experience possible.