Conferences are an important way to learn new skills and make new connections. Last week we looked at a how to approach your manager with the benefits of letting you attend a conference. But there is more to getting a “yes” when it comes to the question of time and cost.
Here are some important reasons your request still might be refused:
It’s taking you away from your work
It’s going to cause you to delay deadlines
It’s too expensive
Let’s look at how to close the deal and prove you’re not wasting time and money on the company’s dollar.
1. Provide Assurances that Your Duties and Projects Will Not Suffer
While your boss may see the benefits of you attending the conference for the company, there is still the concern that the company will have to make do without you during that time. You can come up with a game plan to reassure your boss that you will stay on top of your work even while you’re attending the conference. Here are some ideas:
Offer to work overtime before you leave so that you’re ahead of your workload. Likewise, plan to work overtime on your return to catch up.
Schedule time to check in with the office while you’re at the conference and do some work virtually during the conference off-hours.
Train another employee to temporarily assist with project duties while you’re away. Give this person easy access to you in case questions or problems arise.
Covering your bases will not only offer your boss peace of mind, but it will show that you’ve put some thought into your request and understand how your absence could place a hardship on the company.
2. Handling the Sticky Issue of Cost
Your boss may be convinced… until the costs are outlined. Conferences can be expensive. There’s transportation, hotel stay, meals, miscellaneous expenses, and the conference entry fee to consider. Depending on the venue, this event can turn into a pricey prospect. It’s hard to argue with something as concrete as money, but there are a few things you could suggest to take the sting out of the cost:
Focus on what your company is going to get out of your attendance. This is an investment in you, so show the investor why putting up their money is worthwhile. Perhaps you’ll be able to take on additional duties that can better support the company. Or you may be able to enhance the skills you already have so that you can take the company to a new level. It could even be a way to help you better fill in for a certain department if their manager is out of work that day.
Offer to pay half the costs or ask for coverage of the entry fee only. This addresses the budget problems and shows your commitment to attending the conference. You could also ask to use vacation days or flex days to attend.
Look for ways to reduce the costs before pitching. Is it possible to drive instead of fly to save on transportation costs? Are there less expensive hotel options near by the convention? (Sometimes the convention may be held in a high-priced hotel, but lower-priced options may be within walking distance). Can you save money with “early bird” pricing on the convention tickets? By researching these options, you will show your boss that you have thought about how the trip will affect the company financially and how you can alleviate some of that cost.
Build up to the big one. If you start out with a smaller, local conference, you can prove the worth of attending a larger one when it comes around. Start small and create a strong credibility to backup your promises.
Re-emphasize the networking aspect of the conference. Not only is it a learning opportunity, but it can create invaluable connections with other leaders in the industry. This could potentially lead to revenue for your company down the road.
3. The Aftermath
When you return, find a moment to thank your boss and schedule a few minutes to touch base with him/her about value you gained from the conference. When you meet, bring notes about what you learned, helpful training you received, how the concepts covered will benefit the company, and important ideas that can be implemented to increase productivity or profitability within the company.
Conferences and conventions are a great way to expand your career goals and skill set but getting the funding to attend them can be tricky. An Executive Coach can assist you in finding the best approaches in making this ask to increase your probability of receiving a “yes” answer.
Nadine Greiner, Ph.D. provides Executive Coaching and Human Resources solutions. Her mission is to make the executive experience exceptionally enjoyable and effective. She believes that the world needs great leaders, and has dedicated her career to helping them.
As an organization psychologist and former corporate CEO, Dr. Nadine understands the pressures and demands executives face. She offers her clients the high expertise that only comes with three decades of consulting success, and a dual Ph.D. in Organization Development and Clinical Psychology. Dr. Nadine is an in-demand speaker, teaches in doctoral programs, and coaches other consultants. She is the author of two books: ‘The Art of Executive Coaching: Secrets to Unlock Leadership Performance’, and of ‘Stress-less Leadership: How to Lead in Business and in Life’. amazon.com/author/nadinegreiner