Career Management: Three Ways to Make the Most of Your Annual Conference Experience

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Attending a conference can help you build relationships for business development purposes, career opportunities, mentoring, or friendship.

Most professionals intuitively understand that networking at industry conferences can help advance their careers. If you’re joining us in Singapore for the 66th CFA Institute Annual Conference, here are three ways to make the most of your conference experience:

Knowledge Building

Live conferences are an efficient way to pack a lot of learning into a few days — and, specifically, to absorb information about changing realities in your industry. This is an important type of knowledge building in terms of staying on top of your game professionally (which is indeed a key career management strategy in itself).

Keep in mind that we tend to learn best those things that are immediately relevant to us as well as those things that are repeated. (For more information on the principles of adult learning, check out this handy resource.) This is where networking serves to enhance the knowledge building you can do at conferences. Discussing sessions with fellow attendees encourages repetition of the material and reinforces your learning.

Action item: While at lunch, ask the person sitting next to you, “What were your key takeaways from the last session?”

Career Exploration

Networking at conferences can help you explore your career options in more ways than it makes sense to list here. Two examples worth highlighting:

  • Understanding position responsibilities across different firms. We all know that a position title does not necessarily convey the full story of what someone does at their firm. Broadening your understanding of what positions involve across different firms allows you to clarify and refine your career goals. This way, the next time you want to make a career transition, within your firm or to another, you are better able to verbalize your interests and, in turn, to persuade others of your fit for the role or responsibilities you seek.
  • Gaining insights into corporate cultures at different organizations. In today’s environment, having technical skills is not always enough to secure a position you seek or to land a new opportunity. It is also essential that you fit within the corporate culture of an organization. If you feel right at home in your current organization, that’s a pretty good sign of a strong fit. But if your long-term career goals don’t align with you remaining at your current organization, it’s never too early to start collecting insights into the culture of firms that you may be interested in joining in the future.

Action item: Meet someone new at the conference and ask what he or she does. Then go one step further and ask what the individual likes most about working for his or her firm. You might also inquire about what an average day on the job is like for this person.

Relationship Building

This is an obvious objective: Whether you are interested in building relationships for business development, career opportunities, mentoring, or friendship, the shared experience of a conference is always a great starting point. The important thing to remember is that a superficial exchange of details and contact information is rarely enough of a hook to justify follow-up communication, especially if you are ultimately hoping to ask something of the other person, such as engaging in a mentoring relationship or requesting assistance with a job search.

Action itemTake a conversation one step further with a fellow delegate. Find something other than the conference that you have in common, or think of a way that you can offer something of interest or value. Make a plan to follow up — and actually follow through.

If you are attending the Annual Conference and would like to chat with a career coach or CFA Institute staff about career management strategies, stop by the Member Pavilion.


Please note that the content of this site should not be construed as investment advice, nor do the opinions expressed necessarily reflect the views of CFA Institute.

Photo credit: ©iStockphoto.com/caracterdesign

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