Keeping It Fresh

Keeping It Fresh

We all know that staying on top of trends in our field is important. So is professional networking. Ditto for sharpening skills and gathering new ideas. And the best way to do this is by attending a top-rate, well-managed professional conference, workshop, or seminar.

Plus, you know as well as I that a few days away from the madhouse (um, office) spent among peers can be refreshing, inspiring, and give you that necessary jolt of energy to return to your workplace afresh.

But the gap between knowing this and actually picking up your name badge can sometimes feel as wide as the Grand Canyon.

Why? Because building professional development into your work life takes time, and who has any of that to spare?

Let’s you and I make a pact. Over the next 12 months, let’s elbow enough space in our sardined days to attend at least one professional conference to rejuvenate. With me?

Get a Green Light

Once we’ve identified our ideal opportunity, most of us need to get buy-in (and probably budget) from our supervisor. Fear not, I have a plan.

In a March 23 Wall Street Journal article, “Get the Boss to Say Yes,” Sue Shellenbarger provides five strategies for making a persuasive pitch to attend a conference.

  • Promise Results: Predict tangible gains, new contacts, and/or ideas upon your return. Then deliver.
  • Add to Your Agenda: Add a day for visiting members, donors, prospects, or others linked to your organization in the conference city. Have multiple goals for a single trip.
  • Work Your Way Through: Volunteer on-site and meet more people, make more contacts.
  • Register Early: Plan ahead so you can take advantage of the best pricing. Demonstrate the cost savings.
  • Time Your Request: Make your ask early enough to fit it into the budget. Do your research now and create a budget for your next fiscal year.

See you at the registration desk!


Lori is managing partner of the DC office of Leapfrog Group. Founding partners Melissa DePino, Nancy McDonald, and Lori will be speaking at the 47th Annual CASE-NAIS Independent Schools Conference, January 22-24 in Austin.

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