052. How to Pitch a Conference to Your Boss
So, I recently attended a conference all about launching and growing my business. You may recall before I went to the conference I talked about networking at conferences and how to prepare for your big event.
I love networking events. I love conferences. Attending conferences is one of the ways you can invest in yourself. There are so many benefits of being in a room full of like-minded people within your industry. You can share knowledge and gain much knowledge too!
One thing I’ve learned, regardless of your profession there is most likely an association or some kind of formal group dedication to your industry or niche. I know you’re excited about the idea of attending a conference, but there is only one dilemma… how to get your boss excited about you going to a conference. And more importantly how to convince your boss the company should sponsor you to go to a conference.
No worries! I’ve got you covered.
Before the Pitch
Just a disclaimer here, this should go without saying but just so we’re clear before you pitch a conference to your boss, make sure you are in good standing, both your performance and your behavior. If you are slacking at work, coming in late and doing the bare minimum to get by the idea of a conference to your boss will definitely come off as a workcation, you getting paid to hangout on the company’s dime.
Before you pitch a conference make sure your work is up to par, you’re meeting deadlines, being a team player and hitting hi performance marks. This makes it much easier to get a YES.
It is often difficult to convince your boss to let you go to a conference, not to mention pay for it. Many employers see conferences as a getaway or more beneficial for the individual attending rather than the organization as a whole.
You need to convince your boss that you really will be working at the conference.
The first thing you should do is determine what conferences or event are out there pertaining to your specific career. The first key is to make sure the conference you pitch is related to your industry and more specifically to your primary job functions or role within the company.
A good place to start is ASAE, it’s like the association of associations and has an array of conferences across many different industries, levels, locations and topics.
Then, do your research, identify the benefits of the right conference for you. Before you present your pitch to your boss be sure to lay out all the pertinent detail about the benefits of the conference, what you expect to learn and the value it brings to the organization.
Depending on the type of conference, you may want to include that you can go to the conference to receive industry information and best practices but upon your return you will be able to share the conference content with other staff members. Although you are the one attending the conference, it’s not about you, it’s about your organization.
Remember, you goal is to build a case to present to your boss conferences can provide amazing opportunities for you to share your knowledge, grow your knowledge, connect with people in the industry and expand your network.
During the Pitch
Once you have gathered all the necessary information about the conference, schedule an in-person meeting with your boss. I find it is best to schedule a meeting with as little details before hand as possible.
For example, when scheduling a meeting say something along the lines, “I would love to schedule a meeting with you to discuss department growth opportunities.” If your boss is not to privy to conferences and you provide too much information up front, you are just giving your boss more time to ponder on excuses why you cannot attend.
During your meeting, pitch the conference as an investment and not an expense.
Explain the value of attending the conference for you and for the organization. Tie your pitch into the organizations mission, vision and current growth strategy. Be sure to support your claim with documentation, you are more lightly to get the greenlight when data and projected outcomes are pitched well.
Explain how your attendance at the conference will enhance your performance, knowledge, or skillset and how that impacts the organization. Show your boss that you are invested, not only to the company but to your customers as well.
After the Pitch
After you have formally pitched a conference to your boss. Make it easy for your boss to say yes. Send a follow-up email that summarizes the intent of the conference, the value for your organization and your customers. Then be sure to include all the information and documents needed to register you for the conference such as conference cost and completed registration forms, lodging information, meals, etc.
In addition, I always find it helpful to include social proof of the conference. If the conference is an annual or repeating event, include testimonial or success stories of past attendees. Social proof always ups the ante if your boss is on the fence.
In the event your boss says no to your pitch to attend a conference, don’t let that get you down. No right now does not mean no forever, continue to seek out conferences and find more opportunities. If a conference is not in your employer’s budget consider other conferences that may be located in your same city or nearby bordering states. This helps minimize travel expenses.
Be creative and work with your manager to fit the conference into future budgets and training development plans.