» Planning Your Continuing Education for 2016

The following post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Andy Ebon. Andy is the Founder of Wedding University and The Wedding Marketing Blog, and is an International Public Speaker, Writer and Consultant based in Las Vegas. Andy travels across North America and beyond, presenting to Associations, Wedding Industry Conferences, Regional Gatherings, and Local Meetings.

As you look ahead toward all phases of your business development in 2016 and beyond, one of the key areas of growth is human development. Whether you are a company owner or general manager, it falls to you to think ahead and outline a companywide plan for continuing education and forward thinking.

Planning Continuing Education for 2016To keep up with the latest trends in the industry and continue your education as a wedding professional, attending conferences and joining associations is a big part of being forward thinking. Below I share the factors to consider when choosing which conference to attend, plus some tips for getting the most out of the events you choose.

Preparation: Review the conference agenda and education sessions well before you arrive. Identify the names of speakers and presenters you know or want to hear. Do this one task before you get there and your outcome will always be measurably better.

Attendance: For larger conferences, bring more people. There is nothing more frustrating than noticing three, four, five breakout sessions in the program, and realizing there is only one of you. Don’t try to hoard the education. Invest in a second or third attendee from your company. When you return home, the energy, knowledge, and momentum will just explode.

Price: If you’ve never attended an industry conference, the costs might worry you at first. But think of the expense as an investment in your business, giving you a ROI many times the price of admission. When deciding what to attend, be clear on what the conference registration fee includes. Conference registration, airfare, and hotel room blocks usually come at a significant reduction in price, so plan early and you’ll likely pay less.

Post-event: Bring the experience home to share with other staff members, share the photos, notes from the best sessions, and invigorate everyone. It’s generates pride when a person is working with a company with desire and goals to improve their product, service, and creativity… continually.

To get the most out of your conference attendance in 2016, follow these tips:

  • Attend a conference for your particular skill set. If you are a wedding planner, disc jockey, balloonist, photographer or other wedding professional, find the conference(s) serving your craft.
  • Attend a major wedding education conference, such as WeddingWire World or Wedding MBA (or both!). These two are held on opposite coasts, so select the location and time frame that makes the most sense for you. The infusion of energy and information gleaned in just a few days can power your enthusiasm for the next six months.
  • Attend local or regional events to whet your appetite. Some people are ready to jump right into a major national gathering; others are more comfortable starting smaller. If that sounds like you, then scope out something close to home and smaller scale.
  • When a national conference is in your neighborhood, consider attending – even if it wouldn’t be your first choice. Some conferences are anchored to a single city. Others travel around the United States and beyond. The financial commitment is smaller without travel or just minimal travel. If you really want to get the most out of it, stay at the host hotel and be sure to stay away from your office.

Continuing education conferences are places for learning, building and maintaining relationships, and getting away from the day-to-day. Plan now and commit to the one, two, three, or more continuing education opportunities for 2016. Then develop a line item in your budget for the choices and make them rock solid, not optional. Do this every year and let the flow of self-improvement become a magnificent habit.