In today’s world of technology, there are many options for professional education at your fingertips—from webinars to self-study online courses to YouTube videos. Because of these options, it’s easy to forget about the value to be gained from attending live, in-person events, such as conferences, chapter meetings, and so forth.
Having overseen IMA’s Annual Conference & Expo since 2009, I’ve witnessed firsthand the many advantages in-person events can offer. Getting out of the office, putting the laptop away, and participating in a live event not only benefits your career—whether you are just starting out or a seasoned professional—but also benefits your organization.
Networking can broaden your horizon on the accounting industry at large, which in turn can help you better prepare for future changes. Moreover, meeting directly with other accounting professionals provides the chance to share challenges encountered on the job and often to learn new ways of successfully addressing such challenges creatively.
Speaking with your peers or experts in the field is reenergizing and can have a direct effect on your outlook and the work you do. After a conference, you walk away with names of individuals you can turn to for information on industry trends, the latest services, and new ideas. I have personally come back from conferences with new ideas for adding value to IMA, both in terms of the educational products we offer as well as improvements to be made to our conferences.
Live events provide many opportunities to learn from inspirational, energetic, and engaging speakers. Hearing amazing stories of career challenges that others face, and how they’ve overcome them, helps you say “Hey, I can do that too.” The best part is that you can interact with the speakers face-to-face, ask questions, and bounce ideas off of them.
Recently someone on our conference team attended a live event for conference planners. One of the sessions she attended explored best practices for creating a conference risk-management plan to help organizations identify the proper steps to take in case of an emergency at a conference or event. Not only was the lecture very helpful to her, but she was also able to work through a sample plan during the session. When she returned to our office, she implemented a risk-management plan that we used for our last conference. Fortunately we didn’t need to use the procedures, but we were much better prepared!
BRINGING BACK THE EXPERIENCE
It may be hard to break away from the office for a few days, but you owe it to your career and your organization to attend live events relevant to your profession. It isn’t only an investment in YOU—your organization will also see the benefits. Your new network, the knowledge you gain, and the inspiration you bring back will ultimately help you do your job better and push the organization forward.
If you haven’t been to a conference yet, I strongly encourage you to do so. To register for IMA’s Annual Conference & Expo, hosted in Denver, Colo., June 17-21, visit www.imaconference.org. We can’t wait to see you there!
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