Friday, December 16, 2011

Choosing a Professional Conference to Attend

A resume writer asked me yesterday about attending a professional conference. I believe that professional resume writers should be committed to their continuing education, and conference attendance is a part of that. I've attended a half-dozen conferences over the years, although it's been several years since my last one. I'm hoping to attend at least one in 2012.

With the cost to attend a professional conference now averaging $1300 ($400 registration fee; $350 hotel; $325 transportation, $125 food/beverage, $100 miscellaneous) -- not to mention income lost from being out of the office, you want to choose your conference wisely.

When evaluating conference attendance, consider these things:

Program: Is there a topic or program in particular that interests you? Review the conference program outline and decide which sessions you'd like to attend. Is there a particular area of your business or services that you want to learn more about? (i.e., LinkedIn profile development? Writing federal resumes?) See if there is a conference offering training on that subject area.

Organizer: Which organizations are you already a member of? As a member, you'll get a discount on their offerings. However, consider if you're going to get new ideas or information from this organization? If you’ve been participating in their other programs/offerings, you may find that the conference offers “more of the same” instead of new ideas and information.

Location: How easy/hard is it to get there from here? This can also be a factor in the cost. Can you drive? Flying? Airline travel can be unpredictable nowadays, so allow plenty of time to get to your destination in the event your flight is delayed or rescheduled.

Networking Opportunities. One of the strongest outcomes of conference attendance is the people you will be able to meet and connect with. Evaluate the speaker roster — are these folks within the industry who are sharing their expertise? How new is the information they are sharing (have you seen them presenting on this topic before at other conferences)? Then, consider the attendee roster. How many people typically attend the conference? What is the makeup of conference attendees? Are these the folks you want to connect with? For example, you might find that for one conference, attendees are 25% self-employed professionals, 20% military transition specialists, 40% career office staff (either government or educational institutions) and 15% “other.” Another might be 55% self-employed professionals, 30% career office staff, 10% military transition specialists, and 5% “other.” Consider who you want to connect with!

Consider attending a conference in 2012. Here are some of the upcoming offerings:


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