This might be my shortest blog ever (at least since the first one years ago), but I wanted to get everyone thinking about professional organization memberships and, in particular, professional conferences. If the conference is well designed (keeps members’ needs in mind, for instance), with on-target workshop sessions and plenty of between-session networking opportunities, it can be worth much more than your financial investment.
I just returned from a 3-day conference hosted by Career Directors International (my second since I joined about a year ago). Yes, it was in Orlando, Florida, home of Disney and other attractions, but I didn’t get more than a 15-minute walk from the hotel the whole time I was there. Why? Because the days were packed with valuable information and networking. It will probably take me weeks or months to fully absorb what I learned from it and put what I learned into practice on behalf of current and future clients. The financial investment I made was substantial, as it included airfare coast-to-coast, hotel room (shared with one colleague), the conference registration itself, and the cost to board my two small dogs for several days. Oh, and it also meant–technically, at least–no direct income for the week.
However, it was totally worth every dollar! And, probably not coincidentally, October looks like being one of my best months ever, despite the one-week hiatus.
If you have a chance to join a professional organization and attend one of its conferences, give serious thought to taking advantage of the opportunity. It can be very useful both in leveraging your existing situation for career advancement and in making your current or next job search more productive. Naturally, you’ll want to check out the organization carefully and take a good look at its conference reputation. Does it get favorable–even excited–reviews from previous participants? What does it offer that you probably can’t get or at least can’t get all in one place on your own? And so on.
P.S. I have a big trip planned around mid-2014 for personal reasons, so I’ll be looking hard at possible conference attendance and evaluating it carefully, but the odds are pretty good that I’ll be at CDI again next fall. There’s a good reason for that.