As an employee of a small or large construction firm, you might encounter roadblocks when it comes to convincing your boss or upper management on why you should attend construction events. You’ll get better at this over time, but here are a few tips that help you build a solid case for you attending the event(s) of your choosing—whether that’s virtual or in-person.
1. Choose the right event
This might seem obvious, but it’s not always as easy as it seems. Make sure you understand the full scope of the event that you wish to attend. For instance, if it’s a construction event aimed at C-level executives, and you’re a superintendent or project manager, there’s probably better events to spend your time on.
2. Create a sample agenda
Sometimes just a note or email with a link isn’t enough to showcase the value of the event. Be explicit, but brief (remember, we’re all busy!), on what exactly you want to attend at a particular construction tradeshow or event. Make it clear why it’s important to your current job role or career path.
3. Outline the reasons for attending
In addition to a sample agenda, make the case back to the specific outcomes you aim to achieve by attending the construction conference. This could be learning something new about a particular technology you’re trying to implement, seeing a specific expert on a delivery method you’re beginning to roll out, or nurturing a very niche trade skill you’re hoping to bring to your company. Highlighting the benefit to the company (via you) is exactly the kind of thing they can get on board with.
4. Crunch the numbers for them
Ultimately, many employees get turned down for events because of the cost impact. The good thing about the vast majority of virtual construction events is that they are free or at a very reasonable price point.
But if you are looking to make the case for an in-person construction event in the future, it’s essential for you to first estimate all the costs you would incur by attending the event. This should include the price of the event pass you want, travel costs, meal costs, and accommodation/hotel prices if overnight stays are required.
What to include when estimating the cost of attendance:
- Ticket prices are often tiered based on what you want to learn
- Travel costs should include anything that gets you to where you need to be: airfare, ridesharing apps to/from conference center, rental car, etc
- Meal costs, which may just be a daily per diem
- Accomodation costs like hotel, Airbnb, etc.
5. Estimate the ROI
For both virtual and in-person events, you should try to monetize the return on investment your company would get if you attended the event. Something like, “We would save X hours a week if we were able to adopt this process,” or “We would save $X/year if we were to adopt this technology successfully.” It doesn’t need to be perfect, but should get your manager thinking.
6. Send a formal email
Sending employees to an industry event is a significant investment decision for most construction companies. While it is usually worth the money, they may have to mull over the details. You should formalize your proposal in an email containing your sample agenda, reasons for attending, and cost analysis. These are signals to a manager to trust that you are seriously interested in attending.
Should you attend in-person or virtually?
With many state and business protocols now in place, in-person events are popping back up. Even so, please choose events that you feel comfortable attending. Most sites will explicitly let you know what their plans are for keeping attendees safe. If you can’t tell, feel free to get in touch with them directly.
On the flip side, virtual events are perfectly safe to attend, and loaded with equally high-quality sessions. Virtual attendance also allows continuous learning without skipping a beat. Many conferences even allow on-demand replay of their virtual sessions. While it’s common to allow session access for a limited time, Autodesk University allows you to watch all virtual sessions dating back almost 10 years!
An investment well worth it
If continuous improvement is one of your company’s long-term goals, there’s no better way to do it than attend construction events. It’s an investment, whether time or money, that’s likely to pay off in your company’s future.