How to Get Your Boss to ‘Green-Light’ Your Conference Request
By Kara Page
You know that you can gain valuable insights by attending a professional conference. There’s no question it can be a fantastic way to make connections, learn new strategies and stay ahead of competition.
Now, it’s time to convince your boss! Most managers will be concerned about the return on investment—every dollar has to be justified and so does the time away from the office.
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. This post offers five tips to convince management to say “yes” and secure your spot at a conference.
1. Make a list of why you want to attend.
Before you approach your boss, it’s smart to prepare for the meeting by jotting down talking points and notes.
As a starting point, take a few moments to reflect on the following bullet points.
- Why did you select this particular conference?
- When and where is the conference?
- Will attending the conference and being away from the office negatively impact the team? How will you minimize interruption?
- What do you hope to learn from attending the conference?
- What is the theme of the conference?
- How will attending the conference benefit you professionally?
- What quantifiable goals you hope to accomplish (ex. Network with 10 new connections)
- How will attending the conference benefit the organization?
2. Tie agenda themes and objectives to your workplace mission.
Spend time reviewing the conference agenda, speakers list, highlighted panels, objectives, and relevant topics. Try to make connections between those agenda themes and your workplace mission and vision.
What is your workplace trying to accomplish this year, next year or in the next five years? Will any of the panels or keynote speakers address related topics that you can take back to your team to implement? Will you have the opportunity to network with professionals who face similar challenges? Focus on how this conference is a learning opportunity that will benefit not just your immediate team, but the entire company.
3. Find ways to maximize your visit.
Conferences are typically held in major cities and business hubs. Often, your company might have clients, vendors, or satellite offices in the same destination. Offer to maximize your visit by suggesting ways for you to meet with clients, coworkers, vendors, etc. while you’re in town for the conference. This is a great way to take advantage of your time and make the conference seem that much more worthwhile to your boss.
4. Prepare a presentation or detailed request.
Treat your conference request as if you’re making a professional pitch to a client. Create a professional presentation or document that outlines the benefits of attending the conference. You can reference step one for ideas of what to include.
The ultimate goal of the presentation is to convince your boss to give you the “green-light” to attend the conference, so focus on how your attendance at this conference is a unique opportunity that will benefit the entire organization. You can even offer to host a meeting with your team or leaders after the conference to reflect on major takeaways from the conference along with action items to implement in the workplace.
If a presentation to the boss isn’t a feasible option, you can also create a letter or email request. You can modify the letter below to best fit your needs.
5. Ask when the time is right.
Timing is everything when asking for something you really want, so it’s important to gauge the environment and select an appropriate time to meet with the boss or send in your written request.
Monitor your boss’s mood and look for a day where he/she is in particularly good spirits. If you’d rather have a more structured time to ask, you can bring up the request for more professional development opportunities at your annual employee review. It’s also wise to keep track of the budget year. If there’s money left over in the annual budget, investing in employees’ professional development pursuits can be a great use of funds. Alternatively, if you’re planning for next year’s budget, you can add line items to account for future conference attendance and travel.
Unsure where to start? Feel free to use the following letter request as a guide.
I am writing to request your approval to attend StratCommWorld 2020 June 1-2, 2020 in at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The conference theme is “connection,” and it is the premier professional networking event for strategic communication professionals.
This year’s conference will feature a diverse group of high-level speakers and attendees from corporations, the military, government, and NGOs. Each panel has been designed to provide attendees with forward-looking strategies and ‘how-to’ case studies to help attendees be prepared for what’s next in communication. The agenda sessions that I feel are most relevant to my current job challenges include:
- “Better Buckle Your Social Media Seatbelts” with Aba Blankson, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications, NAACP
- “Practicing Public Diplomacy in a Multipolar World” with Yael Hartmann, Global Champion Strategist & Burundi Government Relations Lead, One Acre Fund – Rwanda
- “New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World” with General Stanley A. McChrystal (Ret), Founder, McChrystal Group, and Former Commander of U.S. Joint Special Operations Command
- “Disruptive Innovation: Building Sustainable Project Models” with Robert Goodwin, Co-Founder, Stone & Compass
To learn more about the sessions I will attend, you can visit https://stratcomm.world/agenda/ or refer to the attached agenda.
In addition to the sessions themselves, attending StratCommWorld will prove invaluable for me because I will be able to connect with like-minded individuals I wouldn’t otherwise meet and learn helpful advice from others to help me address our current business needs.
The first day of the conference offers the added benefit of a networking reception where I will be able to make connections with peers, speakers and VIP guests. Dr. Carmen Simon, will share insights for successful networking from a neuroscience perspective. Dinner guests will learn how to create memorable messages that are easy to process, hard to forget, and impossible to ignore. Takeaways from this session can greatly benefit our organization and the way we communicate.
The cost to attend the conference will include a registration fee of ($ amount), travel expenses ($ estimate), hotel ($ estimate), and parking ($ estimate). As mentioned above, I would also like to attend the exclusive networking connections dinner on Day 1 for a cost of ($ amount).
The total expected cost of attending the conference including travel is approximately ($ amount).
I am confident that allowing me to attend this conference will be a worthwhile investment that will benefit the whole team and department. Attending StratCommWorld is an opportunity for me to network with other strategic communicators across sectors and learn strategies to improve our workplace and further our mission.
I have attached the conference agenda . Please let me know if you have any questions.
Thank you for considering this request.
It’s important to take time to step out of your day-to-day responsibilities and invest in your career development. Professional conferences like StratCommWorld can help you continue learning and introduce fresh ideas into your practice.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kara Page is communications director for StratCommWorld. She is owner of Rewritten Page, LLC, a marketing and communication company dedicated to helping brands, entrepreneurs, and businesses tell compelling stories through strategic, digital communication.