Pitching a conference to your boss is like bringing a new girlfriend home to meet your parents. You know she has all of the right attributes: smart, savy, and a good fit for you. The right qualifications are all there, but will the boss approve? You can't help but have some jitters when it comes time to make the introduction. After all, when it comes to IT conferences, there's a lot of fish in the sea and it can be overwhelming. Here, we've established the fail-proof way for pitching your next conference to your boss and winning their approval.
Step 1: Establish the Need
No matter what line of IT you're in, there are a multitude of appealing conferences out there all claiming to provide second-to-none relationship-building, top-of-the-line-speakers and informative workshops. Does it hurt that the conference is in Las Vegas and each day ends with a free cocktail hour? Probably not. But, stay focused. The first step in maximizing your company's investment is pinpointing the number one thing you're seeking in your profession. Is it furthering your knowlege in a specific area? Is it increasing your client list? Networking with others in your industry? Establish your number one objective and roll with it.
Step 2: Research
Whether you're actively seeking your next conference venture, or just being constanlty bombarded with e-mails and snail mail for the next best one, don't be blindsided by their razzle dazzle appeal (Oooo....extra glossy paper, ahhh...50% off if I register by this date!) Remember your primary need and objective (see: Step 1), then do your research for the best fit. We've eliminated the hard part by providing you with a few resources below:
● Your Guide to the Top Tech Conferences of 2016-2017
● Your Guide to the Best Healthcare IT Conferences in 2016-2017
● Your Guide to the Upcoming AFCEA Conferences in 2016-2017
Step 3: The Rule of 3
This one's the most important. After you've identified the conference you feel is best suited for you, you must be able construct a 5-minute-or-less sales pitch for your manager by clearly identifying and answering the following three questions:
How will it improve your role within the company/relate to your specific duties?
How can the knowledge gained be leveraged across the organization?
How much is it going to cost?
*Editor's Note: A lot of conference websites now provide a template for an e-mail to help you successfully pitch their conference to your boss. While these templates can be handy in helping you identify your talking points, we strongly recommend an in-person discussion. Like a hand-written letter as opposed to an e-mail, it's more personable and will help your case. (It's OK to send an e-mail to propose a meeting time and state your objective.)
Step 4: Attitude
All good salespeople know the number one rule to sales is believing in the product itself. If you're trying to sell something to your boss that you're not 100% passionate about, it shows. Your excitement and enthusiasm about your potential endeavor needs to be apparent. Be confident, well prepared and brief. Use good eye contact and bring a few materials about the conference to show for reference, but summarize in your own words.
1.) Identify your objective
2.) Do your research
3.) Prepare a 5 minute-or-less brief presentation that can clearly identify your 3 objectives
4.) Make your pitch in person
Now, go pack your bags, have a great time and let us know all about it below!