Today’s business leaders actively pursue the skills they need to get the job done. Nobody is sitting around, waiting to hand you that knowledge; you’ve got to go out and grab it. Attending Convergence is one way to do that. Here are a few ways I improve my professional skill set every year.
Attend general and concurrent sessions to know what’s coming. Make attending the general session for your ERP solution your top priority. This session is where you get the roadmap for the high level direction of the software. Knowing what’s coming as far as upgrade cycle, types of improvements, and strategic direction is important information to have when you’re back at home. Concurrent sessions are an even more detailed view into what you may see in the next year or two. Watch for trends and direct your thoughts to how the things you are seeing will affect future decisions at your company.
Keep your finger on the pulse of business and technology by networking with your peers. Not all of the learning opportunities are found in formal sessions at Convergence. Take time to talk with people and ask them questions about how they do things in their businesses. What technologies are other people using? What’s working? What’s not working? What are best practices? What do they wish they could do? What’s being done in their industry? Take time to observe what devices people are using around you. Ask them about what app they’ve used lately that’s helped them out. Find out what books or blogs they are reading.
Learn directly from experts. You’ve got huge opportunities at Convergence to talk directly with experts. Now is the time to ask those really nerdy, super technical, theoretical what-if type of questions. Microsoft experts are everywhere! Watch for members of the research and development teams for your software. Stop after sessions to talk with speakers about their content. Make time to show up at the help desk to talk with the Microsoft gold support engineers who are there. All of these people are here at the conference specifically to talk about ERP software, so engage them in a conversation! You will often learn more in one of these conversations than you could ever imagine.
Get inspired by attending the keynotes. One of the key skills I need to exercise as a leader is to instill hope for the future in my team. If you want to see a great model of this skill, go to the keynotes! I get my annual dose of inspiration every year at Convergence.
Make sure you plan to attend Convergence with some specific goals for improving your professional skill set. The conference is full of opportunities. What will you choose to pursue?
Kerry Rosvold has been the Corporate Controller at Augsburg Fortress Publishers since 2008 and has used Microsoft Dynamics NAV as her ERP of choice since 2004. She blogs regularly at www.dynamicsnavfinancials.com.
This time of year, you might be thinking about what events you want to attend next year. There are many reasons we attend conferences: for professional development, to keep current with upcoming technologies, and to investigate solutions for new business challenges. For me, attending Convergence is all about the networking. I go every year to refresh relationships with business contacts I’ve already made and to meet new folks as well. Check out this quick one minute video clip that talks about the networking value of the NAV user group (NAVUG) at Microsoft Dynamics Convergence.
Not sure if you can get approved to go? Make sure to include going to Convergence in your annual budgeting process. Documenting the ROI of attending Convergence should be a part of your process. For some quick advice on how to do that, see my article Convincing Your Boss You Should go to Convergence.
The 2013 Microsoft Dynamics Convergence event is held in New Orleans from March 18-21.
Attending NAVUG Forum is exciting for many reasons: getting to see the future of the ERP package we have chosen for our companies, meeting and networking with other people who use that same solution for their organizations, and learning new ways to leverage those tools are just a few. How do you share this experience with the people at your company when you get back home to ensure you are able to return next year? By making sure to measure the return on investment you got for your company while you were there!
Start by making a list of what you want to accomplish while you are at the conference. Planning out what you want to accomplish in the three short days you are here is key.
- Who do you want to meet?
- What do you want to learn?
- What problems do you want to solve?
Make sure to involve others at your company when putting together your list. Are there things you could solve for them? Find out what the big picture is at your company. What is your organization planning to do in the next 3-5 years? What are their challenges technologically in order to meet those goals?
When you arrive at the conference, start to work the list. Take advantage of as many sessions as you can attend in your tracks, and pick and choose some sessions from other tracks that may be outside of your comfort zone. Get involved in networking activities. Bring plenty of business cards and be ready to use your smart phone to exchange information for the first time using QR code scanning! Make sure to stop by the help desk to get advice on more advanced challenges from partners who are volunteering their services during the conference as well as from Microsoft experts. Stop by the vendor hall to check out solutions you know you need and find some that you didn’t know you needed.
Before you get back home, review your time at the conference and what you accomplished. When you return to life back at the office, you’ll quickly forget, so write these things down. Once you’ve got your list together of what you’ve accomplished, both big and small, start to assign value to these things. Were you planning to take a class to learn that new thing? How much would the class have cost? Did you solve a problem at the help desk? What would that have cost you? How about that exchange of information you had with another user? They were able to help you think through a solution for something that would have taken you a few weeks or months to get to. How much time, and money, did having a solution now, instead of later, save you? How much is it worth to you that you can call them up three months from now to ask a clarifying question? Add up the numbers – I guarantee you’ve just justified the cost of attending NAVUG Forum.
Make sure to share what problems you solved, what things you learned, and how much money you saved your company by attending NAVUG Forum when you get back home. Set aside some time to discuss the vision for the future that inspired you with your executive team. Share your involvement with the user group by taking advantage of the free learning and networking opportunities they have and by showing your co-workers how they can also get involved throughout the year. Follow up with the contacts you made while you were at the conference. You will find this network of professionals invaluable in the future.
Hang on to that list. If you question the value of NAVUG Forum, or if someone else does, get out your list and look at the bottom line.
If you need a little more help in getting approval from your company for your NAVUG Forum attendance, the user group provides a great template to help you get started. Find it here: http://navugforum.com/justify-my-trip/
As one added incentive, just by reading this blog, you can get an extra $100 off your NAVUG Forum registration by using this promo code: NAVFIN04. This code can’t be used in combination with other offers.
I’ve attended NAVUG Forum for the last four years. I’ll be attending again in October 2012, and I’m bringing three coworkers with me this year. I’m looking forward to the conference already and I hope that you Meet Me There!