Benefits To Attending Industry Conferences

I’m a project manager by day.  Once I dedicated myself to this career path, I attained my Project Management Professional (PMP) certification in 2008, and have been a member of the Project Management Institute (PMI) ever since.  The certification and affiliation are, for lack of a better term, a method to show that I understand the general practices and that I know what I’m doing.

In order to keep our certifications current, members are required to earn Professional Development Units in our field, through such activities like receiving training, teaching Project Management, working in the field, or attaining knowledge of the field.

One of the areas in which you can obtain a good amount of PDUs is by attending conferences.  Here in the Detroit area there is a conference held annually where you can obtain 40% of the annual average requirements.  I debated on whether to attend this year, as I have some ‘carry over’ units from last period, but ultimately decided to attend.

Here are some reasons why I attended and why attending an industry conference can provide benefit to you and your career:

  1. Professional Credits – As I mentioned, we get credits toward required project management practice and learning by attending the conference.  Many professions require a certain amount of training to stay current, and day long conferences (or even longer) are a great way to load up on these credits
  2. Knowledge – Our conference has a variety of presentations and panels where youmb-2015-02-conf can learn about areas which are directly tied with your interests or areas of practice, or where you can learn new areas that might be of interest.  A form of project management called ‘Agile’ is one of the newer and more popular practices, and since my job doesn’t use this methodology, I could choose to learn by spending the day at various areas centered around this topic should I so choose.
  3. Networking – When you go to a professional conference, there are hundreds or thousands of people that do what you do.  This is a great way to meet people and network.  Exchanging business cards (or mobile contact information) is a great way to stay in touch with people that could help you out with projects, with information, or could even be a potential contact for a career change!
  4. Resume builder – Many employers want to see that you can walk the walk, and talk the talk.  Showing that you have knowledge based not just on experience, but from sources that go to the industry practice as a whole, can give you an edge above other candidates.
  5. They’re often a perk – Many employers will pay for your attendance and/or grant you the time off.  My employer does not pay for the conference, but my boss has agreed to provide the day so long as I give a ten minute overview to our team at a future team meeting.  That’s a whole day away from my desk and getting a break from project work for the exchange of ten minutes, plus the time to prepare my discussion.  Not bad!

Industry conferences can be a great way to boost your knowledge, give you an edge in your industry, or give you food for thought in areas where you may want to concentrate your future attention.

Readers, does your career industry provide you with the opportunity to attend focused conferences?  In what ways have you benefited from attending a conference?  Have you ever attended one that was a complete waste of time?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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5 thoughts on “Benefits To Attending Industry Conferences

  1. Attending an industry conference is really a great opportunity that every professional should attend to. I myself always attend when there’s an opportunity. And I completely agree that meeting new friends is one advantage and knowing people who have the same interest with me can most likely help me get a career growth or achieve my professional goals.

  2. The most important benefit of attending a industry conference is networking along with keeping current. In this kind of employment market, both are really important.

  3. That’s really cool you have your PMP! My sister has one, and I thought about getting one myself many years ago, but I didn’t end up doing it. I probably should have just done it as it would be nice to have now.

    Anyway, that’s great you got to go to that conference. Now that I have a flexible schedule I hope to attend more conferences myself. They’re a great way to learn and network as you mentioned.

    • Most of my prior jobs had some element of project management, but I wasn’t full time. Once I hired in here and became a full time project manager, I committed to obtaining the certification. I did mostly self study, and it involved 3-6 months and hundreds of hours of work, but it was and is well worth it!

  4. Going to industry conferences is a great way to expand your network. You also learn so much, not just from these conferences, but from the new contacts you gain.

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