Monday, August 9, 2010

Getting the Most Out of Your CDI Conference Experience

I have promised Laura DeCarlo that someday I will make it to a Career Directors International Conference ("Career Empowerment Summit"). The 2010 CDI conference will be in San Diego from Oct. 14-16, 2010 -- and, unfortunately for me, coincides once again with my other passion: UNO Maverick Hockey. (If all goes as planned, I'll be in Minneapolis at that time.)

But for you lucky folks who get to be there, I want to share some ideas on how to get the most out of your experience. (These ideas are based on an article by columnist Robert Middleton in the Summer 2009 issue of Resume Writers' Digest.)
  • Remember that everyone you meet is a potential referral source. The best resume writers are specialists, not generalists. That means that you have the opportunity to gain referrals from your colleagues who don't work in the same areas you do. I am always looking for writers who are really good at what they do when I attend a conference. As a result, I've made referrals to writers who specialize in military transition resumes and federal resumes -- all from contacts I've made at conferences.
  • Collect business cards. Make sure you get cards from the resume writers you meet, so you can follow up with them when you get back home. (Conversely, make sure you bring plenty of your cards with you too!)
  • Participate in the conference! Yes, I know conferences are often also vacations ... but you're missing out if you hit the beach instead of that afternoon session. The beach will still be there ... but you might learn that one most valuable piece of information you really needed for your business to succeed ... or you might be sitting next to your new top referral source! I agree with Robert Middleton: "Attend every session, every meal, every reception, and every event." As a corollary to this: Do NOT expect to be able to work on client projects while you're at the conference. You won't get the most out of your experience if you're sitting in a session working on a client project. (Yes, I've seen this actually happen at a conference.)
  • Participate in workshop sessions. Don't be a wallflower -- get involved! Ask questions. Approach the presenter after the session. Take part in the group activities.... even if you're shy!!
  • Follow up after the conference. Most conference organizers will give you a list of everyone who participated. E-mail these folks ... connect with them on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. These are great connections to continue in the virtual world!
Enjoy the conference ... and if you'd like to write up a session or two for a future issue of Resume Writers' Digest, send me an e-mail! E-mail me at editor(at)rwdigest.com.

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