5 Tips to Balance Work, Play and Career Development at Your Next Conference
Clerk Conferences are one of the highlights of the year. Whether it’s a regional conference or the IIMC, there are so many opportunities to learn and catch-up with old friends. But the challenge during these events is staying focused. With so much to do it’s easy to lose sight of why you’re attending in the first place. After I returned from the WCMA conference last week in Pasco, WA where I enjoyed visiting with a lot of clerk friends and made some new ones, here are 5 tips to help you get more out of your next conference.
1. Get to know the sessions inside and out
You don’t have to memorize the agenda, but you should be close! Know what sessions you’re going to attend and which ones could be skipped in lieu of other opportunities. If you’re attending IIMC and working on certification, the question you need to ask well in advance is: How can I maximize the number of Certified Municipal Clerk or Master Municipal Clerk points at his Conference? If you aren’t sure, reach out to the organizer, education coordinator or president of your regional association ahead of time to understand which sessions will count towards certification. Here’s a great article from the IIMC that breaks down how to earn points. There are a number of regulations to keep in mind so it’s a great resource to have bookmarked.
2. Schedule important meetings ahead of the conference
The vendor area or tradeshow floor is hectic at the best of times; it’s just tough to have a meaningful conversation with so many people walking around. Instead, pick a handful of vendors you want to learn something from and reach out ahead of time to book a meeting. You’ll get way more out of one 30 minute meeting, than 10 3-minute conversations on the tradeshow floor. Make sure to visit the tradeshow, as it’s a great way to learn about trends in the Clerk industry, but focus your time more effectively by gathering contact information, asking questions, and of course putting your name into the raffles.
3. Get out and have some fun, attend a party or social gathering
You need to have some time to wind down at the conference; after all it’s one of the rare breaks we get from the rigors of being a Clerk. Resist the urge to duck out after the meal. You may need a couple of extra coffees to get going the next morning, but the face-to-face networking opportunities with other Clerks are so rare, that it’s definitely worth the headache. It’s the relationships with your professional peers that will pay dividends if that long awaited job opportunity comes up in a nearby municipality, or you have a pressing question!
4. Ask a colleague to Become Your Conference Buddy
Divide and conquer is a great strategy at any Conference. National conferences like the IIMC have several sessions running at the same time, so it’s impossible to get to everything. Partner up with a colleague, attend different sessions and share notes over a glass of wine at the end of the day. You’ll leave the Conference with twice as much information and a better understanding of the sessions you attended by educating your conference buddy on what you just learned.
5. Put away time to keep up with the office
15 Minutes a day goes a long way to keep critical work on track while you’re away! The sad reality about attending a conference is that your office doesn’t shut down in your absence. If it is necessary for you, carve out some time daily to respond to important emails and make sure meeting and records work is running smoothly in your absence. This is made so much easier by managing agenda packets and other documents online, so you can access everything right from the hotel. How often have you got back from a conference with a definitive plan to follow-up with someone about an exciting opportunity or about something you learned only to have it all derailed by a mountain of urgent work? Be proactive to avoid a hectic few days once you return.
Do you have any suggestions you’d like to share with fellow Municipal Clerks? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be happy to post it in our next blog!
About the Author
Paula Swisher is a Municipal Clerk in Brier, Washington and is a board member for the Washington Municipal Clerks Association.