You need to make sure that you have your boss’s buy in on your spending time attending industry events, otherwise her lack of support can be a significant hurdle. There are several things you can do to help make sure that her mindset is only a hurdle, rather than a total roadblock.
Balancing work and industry events
Balancing work and industry events in your busy organization is not easy. Engaging with industry associations can become harder if your boss doesn’t support the concept. Your boss may feel that industry association meetings are just social or networking events “dressed-up” to look like a work-related event. Your boss may believe that engaging with your industry is not a productive use of time, or she may think that any industry-related activities should be done “off-the-clock.”
Not all who are unresponsive can blame the overwhelming amount of incoming emails and phone calls as the cause of their behavior. Many of us tend to assume that other people’s low responsiveness is due to workload when, in reality, they may not possess a natural predilection to getting back to others in a timely fashion, if at all. Consider these various places you could find yourself when you attempt to balance a desire to be responsive with your actual responsiveness:
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The types of industry associations that exist are endless. In an effort to create camaraderie among industry professionals, share best practices, provide education, and create opportunity, every industry is represented by numerous associations. Here are just a couple examples of professions and corresponding associations:
If you are a… Take some time to explore… At this website
Nurse The American Nurses Association nursingworld.org
HR Manager The Society for Human Resources Management shrm.org
Looking for associations that represent a specific category rather than a specific job title or industry? Simply Google your role, profession, or category followed by the word “association.” You are bound to find either a local, national, or international association that will provide you an opportunity to engage with individuals who share your interests.
Once you convince your boss that your membership and your attendance is work-related, you want to have your organization pay for your membership or registration fees. How do you start? You could write a memo similar to the example below, or use the key points from this example as talking points for a conversation.
I am interested in attending a professional development workshop being hosted by the Software Development Association (SDA). The workshop is on Tuesday, April 10, starting at 8:00 am and ending at 4:00 pm.
The SDA is a global organization dedicated to the professional development of business professionals in the software industry. As I continue to grow my career with our organization, I believe attending this event has the following advantages:
- I would like to use this opportunity to search for candidates for the open Legal Assistant role. There will be over 100 professionals in attendance at this workshop.
- I would like to recap best practices that I learn during the workshop and share them with you. Together we may identify a couple of best practices that we can implement here.
- I want to seek out a colleague who is familiar with the new invoicing platform to which we will be moving in three years. I anticipate this colleague can provide us some information and advice about his/her experiences.
During my absence, I plan to have Marc be the “point-person” for my team and any client issues. I am going to meet with my team two days before the workshop to plan for my absence, and meet with them the day after the workshop to ensure any issues that arose during my absence were immediately addressed.
I anticipate that attending this workshop, as well as any challenges I face managing my absence, will help me grow my capabilities as a leader at our organization. To that end, I am also requesting that you approve paying for the workshop which costs $499.00 (lunch and materials included).
I am excited about this opportunity and appreciate your support. Thank you for your consideration of this request.
An important mindset for you, your boss, and your organization is that your membership in an industry association is work-related. This is not an extracurricular activity. The benefits to you and your organization, as we reviewed in prior posts, are compelling and numerous.
Once you convince your boss that your membership and your attendance is work-related, you want to have your organization pay for your membership or registration fees. Ideally, your boss has budgeted money for industry memberships and meeting registrations. If not, help your boss become proactive by allocating dollars during the budget planning cycle for professional development and industry memberships. The fastest way to close a conversation regarding your organization paying your fees is that there is no money budgeted.
Here is a more in depth look at how you can help ensure that your boss’s mindset regarding your participation in industry association events is a hurdle rather than a roadblock:
- Be open with your boss. Your participation in an industry association should not be a secret. In order to reduce the stress that your boss or your organization may create due to your membership in an industry association, be open with your boss regarding any industry affiliations. Share with your boss that while you anticipate it will be infrequent, you will be interested in attending an industry meeting or conference that might occur during a workday. Confirm with your boss that you will let her know immediately so that your attendance is not a surprise.
- Ask for support. Once your boss is aware that you might attend an industry association meeting or conference during the workday, ask for his support. Ensure he understands that the meeting is work-related, and remind him of the benefits, including the following:
- You will network with other business professionals in order to identify talent for key open positions in your department.
- You will network with industry experts who might have insights on how to plan and implement a big project that is scheduled to start next year.
- You will learn and bring back to the organization best practices that can help the organization achieve its short- and long-term goals.
- You will accelerate your professional development, increasing the value that you provide the organization.
- Plan for your absence. Once you are committed to attend an industry event that occurs during the workday, ensure that you plan for your absence. Often, you boss will feel less angst if she knows that pending work is being completed while you are away. Delegate key tasks to your subordinates, and ask a peer to act as a “point-person” for your team in your absence. This way, you ensure that the work you are responsible for gets done. By identifying a peer to act as your point-person during your absence, you also reduce the risk of drowning in a flood or emails and phone calls from subordinates, clients, and bosses.
- Deliver on your plan. In order to ensure that you can attend future events during the workday, you must deliver on your plan. Nothing will shoot down a future request to attend an industry event during the workday faster than the memory of a debacle that occurred during your last absence. Assuming your plan worked, ensure your boss is aware that your team rose to the occasion.