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13 Things to Consider Before Sending Someone to a Conference

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Is it better to invest in a team than send a person to a conference?

1. Investment. Sending 1-3 people to a conference may be the same as developing everyone. Most conferences run $1,000+ for registration fees alone. Add flights, taxis, hotel, food and entertainment and the cost of a conference runs from $1,000 to $5,000 per person. Send 3 people to conferences and you could develop your entire team.

2. Ideas. Good conferences deliver a lot of innovative ideas outside your business. Engagement allows your team to generate many innovations specific to your clients, challenges and products.

3. People don’t share what they learn at conferences. The learning gets left at the conference because the barrage of ideas never get the time and attention required to implement them. The best of intentions gets overwhelmed by the number of ideas.

4. Business impact. Hearing ideas at a conference can change an individuals’ perspective. Developing the team means applying learning and making behavior changes together to improve results and relationship.

5. Strategic results. Sending many to conferences? You may have a massive opportunity. One client was spending over $100,000 sending individuals to conferences. She was able to redirect those funds and implement quarterly development programs for the whole team. We were able to connect her budget to her desired results.

6. Perk or investment. Conferences tend to be perks or thank you gifts from a well-intended manager who is unsure how to motivate or develop their staff. Investing in the whole team affects the motivation and development of everyone on the team.

7. Branding. Sometimes your brand just needs to be seen at a conference. It is important. This becomes a cost of doing business and some ideas gets implemented. Your customer’s experience can improve dramatically when the whole team is engaged and focused on removing road blocks to customers when they learn how to live the brand.

8. Innovation alert. Going to great conferences can make sure you are aware of innovations in your industry or business-critical components of your business. Engaging your team to apply innovation may deliver higher rewards as teams innovate on current processes, perspectives and relationships.

9. Networking. Conferences deliver opportunities to network outside the business. Individuals get exposed to different ways to produce results and the social opportunities for new relationships. Often internal team members appreciate getting to collaborate together to improve results and relationships. Especially when they apply innovations to their work.

10. Turnover. Conferences can open top talent to outside opportunities. Aligning and engaging the team may retain top talent. People stay because of their team and leader. Those who leave only to return, come back because they miss the team because they worked so well together.

11. Engagement. Speakers tell you things and 90% is forgotten within 48 hours. Unless the conference has workshops, there will be less engagement. Developing the team as one allows team members to engage actively to apply what they learn to their team. It is best for someone to return from a conference and engage the team to adopt and implement the ideas harvested from a conference.

12. What is your team versus individual development philosophy? Do you want a team implementing a system or strong individual contributors? Consider Blue Man Group versus Siegfried & Roy – only one could go on after a member departs suddenly.

13. Team’s relationship to the individual attending. Conferences allow individuals to gain insights from speakers. A great conference might change a leader’s way of thinking. The challenge arises when they return to the team and no one else thinks the same. If this happens, hire a learning designer to engage the team to shift the thinking and apply what the individual learned.

Your team is one of your business’s most valuable assets. Team investment will enable your business to thrive and you will become a leader in your industry.

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