Recharge your batteries at a summer conference

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Plenty of accounting professionals will hit the road this summer and attend a conference. Most associations and organizations schedule their meeting times for summer, after the chaos of busy season and before we all settle back into a routine in the autumn. Summer is also the time when we unwind and think about family vacations. Many people combine work and pleasure by traveling to a summer conference and bringing the family along or having family join us when the conference ends.

If you haven't thought about scheduling time for a summer conference, here are some reasons to reconsider:

  • A conference is a great way to touch base with your peers and colleagues, build connections, do some networking. You never know where the next good idea will come from or who might be in a position to help you in your career. Likewise, you might find yourself in a position to be able to help someone else out.
  • Have some goals in mind. There should be some reasons that drive you to choose a conference. Are there particular things you want to learn? People you want to meet? Classes you want to take? Maybe you're just going to a conference to get away from the grind, but you'll enjoy the experience more if you know why you're going and set about to accomplish your goals while you're there. It would be a shame to get home, only to realize you missed a golden opportunity to meet someone special or get some key questions answered.
  • Learn and grow your business and your skills. Summer conferences typically offer many hours of training and cutting edge ideas. Learn the latest tools for your trade. Accountants find that summer conferences provide an excellent opportunity to pick up CPE credits.
  • Think outside the box. By listening to new ideas and concepts and brainstorming with others in the profession, you can get new and innovative ideas to bring home and apply in your own business.
  • Relax. Summer conferences are rarely all work and no play. You might choose a conference that combines some golf or tennis or fishing with the business sessions, or maybe you've chosen a conference for its proximity to your favorite campgrounds and hiking trails. If you like the night life, pick a conference in a city that doesn't sleep, or if you're bringing your family, you might want to travel to a place where the rest of the family members can enjoy themselves while you're at your meetings.
  • Meet the movers and shakers. Take the opportunity to go to a conference where you'll meet people who are making decisions that affect your livelihood. Have your own voice heard and learn what's on the drawing board for future innovations.
  • Get free stuff. Most conferences include a vendor area where you can rub shoulders with the salespeople promoting the products you use in your business. Not only can you get free demonstrations, product trials, and unlimited explanations about the virtues of the products, you can also count on adding to your pen collection.
  • Make a new friend. Make a point of getting to know some new people. Somewhere down the road those connections might pay off. After you leave the conference, be sure to communicate with the people you met, tell them how nice it was to meet them, and figure out how your new relationship can be mutually beneficial.

So you're ready to attend a conference – now what? Check with your state CPA Society, the AICPA, and any other associations you belong to. They all have their summer conference and training schedules up on their Web sites. Or check into new groups – this might be a good time to get your foot in the door with an association you've been meaning to join.

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