Most companies pick up the tab for their employees to attend seminars (after all, it's an investment for both). However, getting time off and permission to spend some of your company's precious training budget on a seminar or convention isn't always a "slam-dunk" proposition.
A simple verbal request is sometimes all it takes, but a written request is better. Write a memo to your boss outlining the program's features. Attach the brochure and highlight parts that show how you-and the company-will benefit. If your company won't foot the entire bill, negotiate for part of it. Try this phrase to ease your boss's concerns: "I'm so sure we need this course that I'll pay for my transportation and hotel if the company pays the tuition and gives me the time off to attend."
2. REMEMBER YOUR GOALS
What do you expect to gain from the seminar or convention? Write down your goals and list any problems you're having or questions you need answered. Look over your goal sheet the morning of the program; it will help you get what you want from the seminar.
3. GET WITH THE ACTION
Ask questions. Participate in exercises. Talk to the trainer during breaks. The value of a seminar is that you can participate in your learning. Consider the meeting room a "mental gymnasium " where it's OK to run, fall down and get up again.
4."WORK" THE SEMINAR
Why let even one good idea get away? Taking notes will help you concentrate and organize your thoughts. Plus, notes allow you to take a "refresher" any time. Be careful that you don't fall into the rut of writing down just what the trainer is saying. Instead, write down what you're going to do. Push yourself to constantly think, "How can I use that information in my job? How can I integrate these ideas into my company?" Also, look for one "big idea" that will make the seminar worthwhile. (Rule of thumb: The seminar should have a payback in savings or profits five times the tuition fee.)
5. COMMIT TO ACT
Spend the evening of each seminar day going over your notes and writing down specific things you intend to start doing differently or better. Write your action plan as simply, specifically and measurably as you can. Instead of "Improve communications with my staff," write "Have a staff briefing every Monday morning Don't let yourself put away good ideas along with your notes.
6. SEND A "DEAR BOSS" LETTER
If your boss or company sent you to a seminar or convention, send a thank-you letter. Include a brief report about what you'll do or change as a result. Even if you paid your own way, send the report and show how committed you are to your professional growth. Here's an outline for a "Dear Boss" letter:
Thanks for approving my attendance at the convention. I
learned a lot! Here are some of the highlights:
I think the department/company could benefit from what I learned. Here are some suggestions for you to consider.
Again, thanks for the opportunity to attend this program. It was a worthwhile investment-both for me and the company.
It's no secret that ongoing training is essential. Make the commitment to invest in yourself-and ask your company to support you.
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