Here’s how you persuade your boss to send you to a conference this summer

It just officially turned to summer, and you know what that means…time for find some incredible conferences and workshops to attend!

Here at DT, we love conferences and workshops, just like you. We’ll go to conferences across the country, as well as local to San Diego, looking to learn from some of the best speakers and companies around.

However, many of the people attending these workshops (ahem, you and me) don’t control the budget for for training. Furthermore, most workshops don’t come cheap, In fact, we looked at several conferences across the country, and found that the average 1-day workshop cost over $700 per person. We even found a 4-day immersive workshop that cost just a hair under $3,000!

So, if you find this perfect conference with tons of great material, and you end up needing to pitch it to your manager for approval, how the heck do you do that? And furthermore, how do you make sure it gets approved?

Fortunately for you, we’ll shed some light on how we operate internally for conference requests.

The Basics

First things first, we have to know the where the conference is, when it is happening, and how much it will cost.

Including basic information like the title of the conference, as well as a link to the conference’s website goes a long way in helping your manager assess the conference on their own. If the location is not local, you’ll want to include the additional cost (flight, hotel, etc.). Sometimes it can be nice to happen to find a workshop that just happens to be in a really cool location you’ve been interested in visiting.

Dates can be a pretty critical factor as well, since many conferences will sell-out early, or have special early-bird pricing. You’ll also want to make sure to include any extra dates needed for travel in addition to the actual date that you’ll be at the conference.

Next, let’s talk money. You’ll certainly want to note the cost of admission, but it can be more complex. At DT, we ask that requests include potential travel costs, like air travel, hotels, Uber, meals, etc. This helps the manager obtain a complete understanding of your ask.

So, to wrap up the basics, here’s what you need:

  • Name of conference/event
  • Link to agenda for the conference/event
  • Dates requested to attend event
  • Cost of ticket registration
  • Estimated cost of travel
  • Any important deadlines

Seems pretty straightforward, right? Well anyone can come up with this list…how can you boost this with a little bit of soul?

The Pitch

So, now that we’ve knocked the basics out of the way, how can you really drive home to your manager that this conference is a must-attend event?

We distill it down to 2 questions:

  • How will this event drive your personal growth?
  • How will the event drive growth for your department and the company as a whole?

Personal Growth

We often talk about being driven for growth at DT, and always looking to better ourselves. Our first complex question for our conference request is then “How will this event drive your growth?” It seems pretty straightforward, but remember: your manager knows exactly where you need to grow as well. This just means that you need to be looking for the perfect conference that matches your skills and enhances them.

Departmental/Company Growth

The other aspect through which we view conference requests is “How will the event drive growth for your department and the company as a whole?” Anytime we send someone to a conference or event, we want that person to bring back what they learned to the team. Any conference that can help grow our team in depth of a certain skill is always a plus. This way, rather than making a pitch for a standalone conference attendee, you’re making a pitch to send you as a liaison to both represent your company, and bring back learnings to your entire team.

For example, last year a few members of our team traveled to Texas to attend and experience design conference. A year later, after the attendees taught our own internal team, we launched it as an agency service. That’s about as impactful as you can get in terms of driving growth!

After the Conference

After having pitched the event successfully, and attending, the next step is to figure out how to share that new knowledge with the rest of the team. This will be a key step, since everyone can’t attend every workshop. While this is open to adjusting, we normally propose one of the following options:

  • Interactive workshop: How might we teach the conference content to the rest of our team in a hands-on manner? Here we look to engage the team with company-wide workshops that typically span half a day.
  • Presentation: For keynotes and conferences with multiple speakers, a list of the key takeaways and best ideas can be most impactful. This is less of a time-commitment for the company and can be just an impactful depending on the content.
  • Blog post/webinar for our audience: If we have an incredible experience, and want to share what we’ve learned with the world, blog posts or webinars for our readers (Hey, you!) are encouraged.

Overall

When all’s said and done, your request will be pretty comprehensive, explain to your manager and accounting everything that they need, and drive home the point that you’re continually invested in improving yourself as well as improving the company.

For us, it’s a simple-yet-effective framework.

For you? Maybe try it out with your manager for our upcoming UX Essentials of Product Design Workshop.


This post originally appeared on the Digital Telepathy Blog