Raise Your Visibility & Value: Gaining Your Boss’s Support for Industry Association Engagement

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.