Thursday, September 6, 2012

Career Thought Leaders Conference Goes "Virtual"

Big announcement from Wendy Enelow and Louise Kursmark today -- the Career Thought Leaders Conference and Symposium in 2013 will be a "virtual" event. Here is the email (with my thoughts below):


RE: 2013 CTL Conference & Symposium - March 18, 19 & 20, 2013

We heard you! In fact, we heard you 10 years ago, 5 years ago, and just months ago. Conference expenses have gotten out of hand. Between registration, travel, hotel, meals, and miscellaneous, you've spent $1000-$2000, and it's just too much anymore.

The question then becomes ... How can CTL create a new conference experience that lives up to the standards of the past? A conference with outstanding educational and professional development programs in an environment that fosters networking, opportunities, partnerships, and other collaborations.

Our solution ... Create precisely what we've been doing all along, but bring it to you so that you don't have to travel to us!

What does that mean to you:

1. There are no plane or train tickets to buy, no hotel rooms to book, no meals to pay for, no tips to bell captains, no extra expenses at all, and that is a wonderful thing!

2. You'll be part of the first-ever, full-fledged, full-video conference within our industry. It's so exciting! As the careers-industry thought leaders, we should also be the careers-industry conferencing thought leaders. We need to take the lead and move forward, and that's exactly what we're doing.

Wait until you see all that this technology can do, from the video presentations to the live Q&A after each presentation, to your briefcase that automatically downloads and saves handouts and slides, to the numerous chat and social media venues. It is an extraordinary user experience (and an EASY one at that)!

3. Attendee registration pricing will remain the same! That is also a wonderful thing!

4. Our international colleagues will be able to attend! How fortunate for our Brainstorming Day team in the UK, our RWA students in South Africa and Lebanon, and our vast network of associates around the world. We're no longer limited by geographic boundaries, and that is the true value of our new virtual conference. We can ALL congregate, learn, share, brainstorm, and create an extraordinary experience.

What does this mean for our sponsors and exhibitors?

Instead of the traditional, 3-day, live exhibitor experience you're accustomed to, your new CTL Conference Exhibitor Hall is open for 6 months! Six months to reach out, build relationships, promote your products and services, and so much more.

The Exhibitor Hall opens January 1, 2013, and remains open until June 30, 2013. As soon as people register for the conference, they'll have immediate access to your booth so you can start to reap the benefits long before the actual conference begins!

For those of you who are tech-savvy exhibitors, wait until you see all that you can do with videos, downloads, interactive tools, social media, and more. It's very cool! For those of you, like me, who are less tech-savvy, creating simple signs and uploading pdf files is a snap.

If you already know you want to sponsor and/or exhibit, get in touch with me and we'll put things in motion. Some of you may want to begin thinking about and building your exhibitor booth now, with plenty of time before the beginning of the year.

The conference website will be live in a few weeks, and we'll begin the registration process for those of you who want to extend your payments. In the meantime, here's a quick overview of our conference program:

Monday, March 18, 2013 - Entrepreneurial Day

  • Netweaving: Thought Leadership in Networking & Paying It Forward (Bob Littell, Netweaving International & The Enrichment Company)
  • Sales, Marketing & Business Development: The 3 Essentials for Entrepreneurial Success (Denise Hedges, Business Breakthrough Institute)
  • 4 P's of Profitability: Pricing, Packaging, Partnerships & Product Development (Wendy Enelow & Louise Kursmark of Career Thought Leaders & Resume Writing Academy; Amy Gubser of Careerlaunch USA)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013 - Resume Day (Resumes, Cover Letters, E-Notes, LI Profiles, Career Bios & More)

  • Writing Resumes for Senior Management & C-Level Executives (Cheryl Simpson, Executive Resume Rescue)
  • Writing Resumes for Graduating Students: Traditional & Not-So-Traditional (Chrystal McArthur, Senior Associate Director, Rutgers University)
  • Writing Resumes for the "Average Joe" (Cathy Alfandre, Catherine A. Alfandre, LLC)
  • Writing Resumes for Technology Professionals (Stephen Van Vreede, ITtechExec)
  • Writing Resumes for Military-to-Civilian Transitions & Federal Opportunities (Diane Burns, Career Marketing Techniques)
  • Writing Resumes for Career Changers (speaker pending)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013 - Coaching & Career Management Day

  • Thought Leadership in Social Media for Career Professionals (Joshua Waldman, Author of "Social Media for Dummies")
  • Career Planning, Development, Reinvention & Renewal (Carol Vecchio, Centerpoint Institute for Life & Career Renewal)
  • Thought Leadership in Personal Branding for Your Clients & Yourself (Susan Chritton, Pathways Career & Life Strategies)
  • Necessary Endings in Jobs, Careers, Industries, Professions & Life (Michelle Carroll, University of Maryland & Career Development Alliance)

As always, each day will be followed by Colleague-to-Colleague discussion groups on very specific topics centered on each day's theme. These are always popular programs, allowing you to share your knowledge and your voice with others in small, facilitated group discussions.

There is so much more to share about the conference, and I will do that over the coming months. Today's message was simply to let you know about the 2013 conference and all it has to offer.

Change can be difficult. I'm certain that some of you are reading this and questioning the whole virtual conference concept. Let me assure you, virtual or not, the conference will be filled with networking opportunities and the "touch and feel" that is so important to all of us. We need the time each year with our colleagues, to renew and re-energize, and we WILL make that happen!

Feel free to contact me ( or Louise ( with any questions you may have.
Wendy S. Enelow, CCM, MRW, JCTC, CPRW
Author, Trainer & Career Consultant


Here are my thoughts:

  • Conference attendance is expensive. Wendy and Louise say $1000-$2000 -- my research indicates an average of $1200 for a resume writer to attend an in-person conference. That's approximately $400 for conference registration; $300 for travel (airfare); $400 for a couple nights at the conference hotel; and $100 for meals and incidentals. Cutting your cost to get access to great information by 1/3 can be a significant incentive for more careers industry pros to attend. And, as Wendy and Louise point out, this has the potential to draw more attendees from outside the U.S.
  • In-person opportunities for resume writers and career industry practitioners to meet up are declining. One of the primary benefits of in-person attendance is the networking component. I'm not sure how the virtual format will facilitate this, although Wendy and Louise do reference the use of social media tools, Live Q&A feature, Colleague-to-Colleague discussions and other "networking opportunities." But there's no substitute for the time spent meeting new colleagues at breakfasts, lunches, dinners ... or in the hotel elevator! Many a subcontracting relationship has begun at a resume industry conference.
  • There's something to be said about exposing yourself to new places. One of my favorite parts of attending a conference is traveling to someplace. Many of my conference experiences have been to places that were completely new to me (Philadelphia, New Orleans, Toronto, Tampa, Savannah, Scottsdale ... and now Charleston.) I don't know that the CTL conference benefited from this, though, because it was always held in Baltimore. The Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches (PARW/CC) conference was similar -- every three years, it was held in Tampa, because that's where the organization's headquarters are. It may be just a coincidence that neither of these organizations have in-person conferences anymore, but there is something to be said about going new places and how it can energize your work and your business. (Having a conference in a new place each year is a huge burden for the conference planner, however!!)
  • The decline in in-person conferences is a concern for the resume industry overall. While the loss of trade shows and conferences has been significant since 9/11, the resume industry is now down to two major conferences -- the National Resume Writers' Association conference (coming up Sept. 19-22 in Charleston, SC) and the Career Directors International (CDI) conference in San Diego in October. Both of these in-person conference are held in the Fall; it will be interesting if either of them change their dates in the future to fill this gap.
  • There are lots of online training opportunities. There is already a lot of "competition" in this space. One significant difference between conferences and other training programs used to be that they were held in person. There are certainly a lot more online training and certification programs than there were in the days when there were four industry conferences (NRWA, CDI, Career Masters Institute/Career Management Alliance, and PARW/CC). The advantage of keeping the conference in the three-day format (with single-day registration options available) is that it focuses the training, rather than having it held over multiple weeks, as is the case with many online certification training programs (including Wendy and Louise's flagship training program, the Resume Writing Academy.)
  • Technology is improving. Susan Whitcomb's organization, The Academies, is having it's second annual virtual bootcamp (in November of this year). By all accounts, it's a well attended event. And technology has improved to the point where you can get many of the five senses fulfilled with an online training. (Although the technological requirements for webinar/video can be quite steep -- cross-platform access can be a challenge. For example, you may need to install certain software or plug-ins to access some of these services, which some folks might not want to do. Not saying that's the case with the CTL program...) I'll be interested to learn what technology Wendy and Louise are using to fulfill the virtual conference. But the fact still remains that there is a lot of "clutter" when using technology -- and it's subject to unexpected glitches. I've conducted dozens of teleseminars, and the distractions of everyday life (barking dogs in the background, resume writers who are working on other things while they "participate" online) are definitely a challenge to deal with. That brings me to my next point...
  • For you to get the most out of the conference, you need to devote time to it. I've been in conferences where a few resume writers are on their computers writing resumes during the conference. This format may benefit those who find it difficult to be "out of the office" for days at a time. It sounds as if the programs may be recorded, which would be useful as well. You'll get more out of the virtual conference if you participate "live." Again, another value of in-person programs is the live feedback and participation. (I can tell you that, as a presenter, you get a lot more out of programs with active participants than when you feel like you're talking to yourself.)
  • Content is still king. There's no doubt that Wendy and Louise put on content-rich programs. And I can guarantee you, it's not much less work for the "dynamic duo" to have to put together a rich schedule of training online versus in-person. Looking at the program lineup, it's evident there is a ton of value in the 2013 program. What will be interesting is the lineup in future years -- there is a certain segment of the speaking community that prefers to do in-person trainings versus online. (Conversely, however, you might have access to even more speakers who are less expensive or more available for online trainings than in-person events.)
What do you think? Did I miss anything? Feel free to leave a comment below.

1 comment:

  1. My first thought was that they hit the nail right on the head. I was just barely able to attend the NRWA conference and that was by the grace of God, but all the other costs were deterring me for quite a while. I find it to be much easier to invest $300-$400 hundred in my professional development although I'll lose the ability to physically shake hands. I appreciate Louise and Wendy trying to accommodate those of us who aren't millionaires YET! I've never attended a CLT conference before but I suspect I'll be in virtual-attendance in 2013. Thanks for this new direction!