Dear Coach Joan,
My new manager asked if I’d like to accompany her to a professional conference in our field of architecture. I’m wondering if there’s really any value to meeting up with others in my field. I wonder if my time would be better spent at work?
You sound like a very conscientious employee and your firm is lucky to have attracted someone with such a strong work ethic! However, I strongly encourage you to get involved in professional conferences. You manager is generous and wise to give you the offer. Take it! No matter the field, professional groups all share in the mission of bringing their members together for:
- LEARNING – Professional networks are focused on bringing the latest in trends, discoveries and methodologies to their membership. Often you will learn from other practitioners in the field and you will benefit from their knowledge. Additionally, you have the chance to get to know the presenters by developing good questions or comments to direct to them after their talk.
- SOCIAL – I’m sure you’re familiar with the idea that it’s who you know that matters in business. I do believe that your skills matter, too. But it’s tremendously valuable to meet with others in your field, outside of your own company. By participating in a professional group you have the chance to be visible and known among your colleagues.
- PROFESSIONAL LEADERSHIP – One of the best ways to attract positive attention is to share your knowledge. Perhaps you’ve designed a local building and your firm gives you permission to discuss it. Do it! It’s vital that you become known for your accomplishments. Leaders attract opportunities. Leadership skills are invaluable in the course of any career!
- CAREER ADVANCEMENT – When firms have the need to hire they often look to their peers in professional organizations. That is who they think to call. And you often Linkin with the colleagues you meet at these events. Networking these days must be both online and face-to-face for maximum impact. And organizations often have web sites with job postings, too.
Elaine, I strongly encourage you to say YES to your manager’s offer of going to a professional conference. And further, look into how you might play some kind of leadership role for visibility, growth and career exposure. Build a reputation of professionalism and capability in your field. Doors will open for you!! Good luck and get out there!!