I didn’t have the opportunity to attend professional conferences for a long time, because small business often can’t afford the fees or loss of services from the employee. So I have a kind of bee in my bonnet when I see people waste what I think is a privelege because of their own attitudes. Here are 3 that I often see that should disappear:
1. “I’m only here for credits.” Many professions have some kind of continuing education requirement, including HR and the law, the two I am directly involved in. So I absolutely understand the need to keep those credits rolling in. But if getting credits is the only reason for attending a conference or choosing a session, you might as well stay home and get your credits from the web, where you can sleep or do other things without anyone knowing. Instead, choose sessions or conferences that engage you or spark your imagination. Or spend time at your next conference networking. You won’t get credit for networking, but you will get a valuable career experience that is just as important. But if the only reason you walked into the door was for the credit, you have already closed your mind and limited your ability to learn.
2. “This doesn’t apply to my organization.” If you listen to a speaker discuss a topic and then spend time deciding how it can’t or won’t work in your organization, you have created a self-fulfilling prophecy. You have taken a call to action and turned it into inaction, simply by believing it’s not actionable. The name of the children’s story is not “The Little Engine That Couldn’t”. You will have a much better conference experience if you think of how it can work, instead of how it can’t.
3. “I don’t need to know anything about this topic.” You may think that you don’t need to know anything about marketing if you are an HR pro, or tech issues if you are a lawyer. But so what? It’s the ability to open our minds to new ideas and experiences that helps us innovate and creatively solve problems that we do encounter. And you never know when something that is said in one of those supposedly non-essential conferences will spark the idea that pushes your career to the next level.
Are there any more attitudes that hold you back from using conferences to maximize your development? Let me know in the comments.