Employees See Value in Paying for Conferences

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), June 19, 2009 | Go to article overview

Employees See Value in Paying for Conferences


Byline: Melissa Kossler Dutton For The Associated Press

When English teacher Peter Holtz recently attended a professional conference in Orlando, Fla., his school didnAEt put any money toward the trip. Nor did it pay a substitute to teach his classes at Ipswich Middle School in Massachusetts.

However, the school did allow his colleagues to help him.

"We have a team of teachers that will cover for each other," Holtz said. "That doesnAEt cost anything."

Amid major corporate budget cuts, employees are looking for ways to attend seminars and professional meetings without busting their bossesAE budget. Some are using their own money, vehicles and time to get to conferences that will make a difference in their jobs and advance their careers.

ItAEs a smart strategy, said Celia Crossley, a career consultant in Columbus, Ohio.

"If you can get yourself to a professional conference, get there," she said. "This climate just reinforces the fact that you have to take care of your career."

And an employee who is willing to cover part of the expense is going to get the attention of management, said Ed Rigsbee, an expert in trade association conferences and president of Rigsbee Research Consulting Group in Los Angeles.

"If someone is willing to spend a nickel of their own, IAEm going to be more willing to listen," said Rigsbee, who believes employees should invest 5 percent of their income in professional development.

The costs are generally tax-deductible.

Rigsbee suggests offering to pay for some of the expenses and seeing what the company can provide. If presented with the right plan, a boss might kick in frequent flier miles or offer hotel credits, he said.

Spend some time organizing your proposal before approaching management, recommended Peter Meyers, who runs User Effect, a consulting company in Chicago. Meyers, who wrote an article for his companyAEs Web site entitled "Getting Your Boss to Pay for Conferences," suggests providing your manager with information about the seminars you plan to attend and how they will make you a greater asset to the company. …

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