I had a lot of reasons not to attend the Editors Canada 2018 conference, held in Saskatoon on May 25-27. I was struggling with low energy and caregiving duties (spouse). Also, I have been retired — or at least semi-retired — for a decade. But since Saskatoon is so close to my home in Edmonton and WestJet had not yet threatened to go on strike, I flipped a coin and decided to go. I am really glad I did.
Generally, people attend conferences to learn more about topics that interest them and/or that will contribute to their professional knowledge. Well, I guess that leaves out a retiree like me, even though the Saskatoon program was spectacular.
Another good reason to attend is to retreat/regroup/take a breather in an exotic location in order to return to work refreshed and stimulated. Also not all that applicable for a retiree. (Yes, I hear some of you scoffing at the idea that Saskatoon is an exotic location. Well, in its own way it is. But that’s the topic of another article.)
There’s another important component of conferences, and this was the one that most appealed to me when I was in the workforce. You can mix and mingle with colleagues during the breaks and meals. Networking offers just as much value as the presentations and sessions. Professional connections provide invaluable support and resources; they help you to progress in your career.
Through networking you can also develop social bonds — even close friendships — with those who do what you do. Your family gets tired of hearing about grammar and deadlines and difficult clients, but your colleagues never do.
To illustrate, in the distant past I was not embarrassed to call up a trusted colleague and ask, “How do you do italics in Word?” We had been using WordPerfect and had recently switched to the new software. This anecdote will sound very strange to those who started their editing careers in the 21st century. But see above. Retired.
Which leads me to my reason for attending a conference when I’m no longer in the workforce: To see old friends. After decades of involvement with Editors Canada, there are editors I know and like in almost every province, and many of them were heading to Saskatoon. So why miss this chance to at least wave at them across the room or, preferably, buy them a drink?
Will I see you in Halifax at the 2019 Editors Canada conference? Start planning now. It’s worth it.
[P.S. My husband was an accountant, so I have to mention another reason to head out to a conference location and perhaps combine the trip with a vacation. If you are self-employed, the cost of travel and accommodation related to the conference is tax deductible.]
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