When I meet other techs within industry, I’m often asked, how exactly do you get to do so many conferences throughout the year? Honestly, it’s not easy, it takes quite a bit of negotiation of my time and resources.
Taking holiday: most of the time, I attend conferences as myself whilst on holiday from work. Some of you might say that’s not healthy, but sharing my knowledge is why I got into this industry so, whilst it’s not perfect, it’s what I do.
Business representative: sometimes a conference aligns directly with the organisation’s needs, wants, focus, and offerings. When you find the conference that speaks directly to the business, this is your time to negotiate and be able to spend a working day at a conference! In my examples I’m using when you’re a speaker, however, you can also be a business representative whilst attending a conference - but might take a bit more negotiations.
What is the most valuable, important, and focus of an organisation? Hopefully, people, specifically their clients. Money is what makes the company succeed, it’s what pays your salary, and allows for the business to continue - so understandably it’s a massive part of the decision making process; remember this, and tailor your business case around this.
When creating your negotiation package, or business case, for a conference consider the following questions:
Is this conference related to the industry of your organisation or align with your clients industry?
Do you know of any existing, past, or future clients that are attending this conference? Would it be beneficial to catch up with them whilst there?
Is there a possibility to invite a client to join you at the conference? Or invite to attend your talk?
Will your talk highlight and cement your organisation’s expertise within this industry or sector? I’ve had many clients follow up after a talk given to inquire about opportunities, because they liked what I was saying - it related to their challenges.
Is there a financial cost to speak at this conference? Or a financial benefit, speaker fee, that will be paid for speaking?
Lastly, will your talk align with the offerings of your organisation?
If even one answer to those questions is yes, I would say you have a good case; if more than one - great! Remember, if you use the language of the business, and clearly identify how the organisation can benefit, then why wouldn’t they support you?
Not speaking, but looking to attend a conference? Consider what you could be learning, connections you could make, and what exactly is the benefit to the organisation? Another thought to make, could you write up what you learned, identify gaps in the organisation’s offerings, and/or teach your colleagues about industry trends? Add that to your business case!