I probably ask myself that question every year, especially as the date gets closer and the workload is not decreasing! Can I afford to be out of the office? Is the return on investment going to be worth it? Will I regret the decision when I get back to my office and have to play catch-up?
Yes, yes …no!
I did afford the time out of the office. The ROI was definitely worth it …AND NO I don’t regret having to play catch-up, well maybe just a little but its the same after a vacation too! And like a vacation, a trip to the annual industry association conference is a “must do”!
The conference in question was Canada’s staffing industry (ACSESS) conference, this year held in Montreal.
I can deem a conference to be a success for me if some reasonable cross-section of these benefits happens: (a) I get a couple of takeaway ideas that can have an impact; (b) I get inspired/motivated by one of the speakers; (c) I get to spend some quality time networking with other industry leaders; (d) I meet a few new people. Some bonus points are given if I have a good time … but its rare that I don’t have a good time!
So … how did this year’s conference stack up against those benefits:
A. Take aways.
Statistics Canada unveiled this years industry statistics in a form that we can incorporate into client presentations about our industry. Understanding the size and scope, and thus importance of our industry to the Canadian economy is powerful stuff.
CareerBuilder gave a presentation about three of their surveys … all with Canadian content. 1. What are clients looking for from our industry; 2. What do candidates value from staffing companies; and 3. What are staffing companies paying their staff these days! You can’t get more relevant that this! Any staffing company can have a significant impact if it gets those three things right!
There was plenty more relevant “stuff” … social media advice from LinkedIn and CareerBuilder; information about how technology might affect our future; advice about the four generational cohorts in the workplace today; and Leadership advice from industry experts like Neil Lebovits and Stanley Cup winning hockey coach Jacques Demers!
B. I did get inspired AND motivated.
In fact I am turning into “that guy” who comes back from a conference with a million new ideas. Of course the first words from people’s mouths will be … “he went to a conference!” The important thing is to take those ideas and the motivation, to be pragmatic about what can work and when and only then to start to implement change.
There were more than 200 delegates at the conference and I got to spend time with some of the leaders of Canada’s biggest staffing companies, in a setting that promotes dialogue and co-opetition … we compete, but we can still share best practices to help our industry serve its clients best!
D. Out of 200 people there is always the chance to meet some new people, I met people who are new to the association new board members and people new to our industry. I got to meet people who travelled from across Canada to be at the event. Its a great way to share ideas and help an industry to grow.
And the last question has to be about fun … well I always have fun. I’m also pragmatic because you don’t always need to spemd a ton of money to have fun. Some industry conferences are at the most expensive locations, with lots of golf and other expensive activities. I am more comfortable when work activities are done in a tasteful but not lavish environment. The hotel was good, the days were filled with meaningful learning opportunities … and we still got to party a little in Montreal.
It doesn’t get much better than that!
Kudos to the ACSESS conference committee and thank you to all the sponsors and presenters. If you are ever wondering whether an industry conference (whatever industry you are in) is a worthwhile investment then just read this blog post!
Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
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