Fall is coming up quickly, and that means it’s national conference season! We find national conferences to be a great way to improve your skills and to grow you network. These are valuable to both individual practitioners and organizations. Admittedly, getting approval and funding to attend can be a bit tricky. Hopefully we can help you navigate through the obstacles and find the right conference for you.
Find the Right Conference!
There are two important factors to consider here: 1) relevance to your job and 2) location. The goal is to find the conference that will bring you the most value for the least amount of money (and travel!). Watermark Learning will be at the following three conferences this fall, and we hope to see you at one.
When: November 2-6, 2014
Where: Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Who Should Attend? This conference is synonymous with the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA). According to the BBC 2014 website, “Building Business Capability is the only conference that combines insight into Business Analysis, Business Architecture, Business Process, Business Strategy & Transformation and Business Rules & Decisions to facilitate creating the agile enterprise.”
PMI Global Congress 2014
When: October 26-28, 2014
Where: Phoenix, AZ
Who Should Attend? The PMI North American Global Congress is traditionally a hotbed of resources and information for project managers. This will still be true this year; however, you can also expect to see a fair amount of business analysis, especially as it relates to project requirements. New this year is the Business Analysis and Requirements (BAR) Track as a continuation of the work PMI has done this year with business analysis.
When: September 22-24, 2014
Where: Seattle, WA
Who Should Attend? This conference is hosted by IIR USA and provides opportunities for business analysts and project managers alike. “Join industry thought leaders as they re-examine how to identify opportunities and track their success, understand what it means to be an effective leader in a virtual and multicultural work, and explore the future roles of project managers and business analysts.”
Make Your Case
Conferences are a great way to get a lot of professional development in a condensed amount of time. This is especially great if you are certified and need those pesky PDUs and CDUs. When requesting time and money to attend, keep the focus on your request to attend on the knowledge you will gain and the benefit to your organization.
Be prepared to explain how you will share the knowledge you gain to the benefit of others in your organization. The connections that you make at the conference will be an asset to your organization. That subject matter expert that you met is now connected to the organization. Finally, the vendors at the conference may arm you with new ideas to bring value to your organization, and they frequently offer deep discounts at the conference.
Get the Most Out of the Experience
You are at the conference! Congratulations! Now make the most of the experience.
Attend Sessions with the intent on learning something new. Take notes but more importantly, ask yourself at the end “what one thing will I do differently based on what I learned.” Note that too so you can check back with yourself. Often the presentations or supporting papers will be available to conference participants. Be sure to download these and make them available, along with your notes, to your peers back at the office.
Network! This is a great place to make new friends that are in the same profession as you, but don’t work with you. This is a fantastic way to get fresh perspective and share ideas. Don’t forget to network with conference speakers. As a speaker, I often judge how well a session went by the number of people that stick around to say “hi” and exchange business cards. We welcome your insights into our topic, even when contrary to what was presented. We are thrilled to have an opportunity to follow up to see how we can support your further. Don’t forget to follow up after the conference with all the new connections you make.
Go Shopping! Visiting the vendors is a great way to find out what products are out there that might help your organization. There will often be give-a-ways and deep discounts available to conference attendees. You may not be in a position to buy, but you can report your great finds back to the organization.
I hope you are able to attend one of the fantastic conferences. Please be sure to stop by the Watermark Learning booth to say introduce yourself, make new connections, and perhaps win a free seat to a future training.