Re: Why should I go to a conference?

Subject: Re: Why should I go to a conference?
From: Tim Altom <taltom -at- IQUEST -dot- NET>
Date: Tue, 14 Oct 1997 06:55:40 -0500

At 10:41 PM 10/13/97 -0500, you wrote:
>Please, if you have a minute to help...
>I just started a new job (today), and I noticed an upcoming
>technical conference in the area I will be documenting.
>I would like to go because the technical presentations (plus
>a day-long tutorial) would help me get up to speed quickly. (I'm
>moderately technical, but I've been out of the field for a while.)
>My boss is a good guy, and he thinks this sounds reasonable, but
>the cost is an issue. So he needs a little help justifying why
>a technical conference makes sense for a technical writer.
>Me, I've got mental writers' block, and the best I can do is this:
>"I'll learn a lot, and absorb a lot of good vocabulary. And maybe
>I'll meet some of my future readers. All of this will help me write
>faster." But I think this sounds too simplistic.
>Got any suggestions for fancier words to help push this idea?

From this point, salesmanship is probably the best answer, and that's the
art of finding out what's important to the prospect, where he hurts, and
then proposing a way to numb the pain.

Does your firm deal in cutting-edge stuff? In that case, conferences are
about the only way to quickly infuse industry knowledge into your documents.
Are you a start-up needing exposure? You can be a part of that by just
showing up at a conference.

Put it on the basis of what's good for the company..."What's in it for me?"
Is efficiency prized at your company? Then the faster you can work, the
better, and you'll work faster if you spend some time with the technology.
But if money is the major worry at your place, then the
efficiency-by-spending-a-lot logic may not fly. How about cheap notoriety?
Then maybe you could get a list of prospects from your marketing department
and visit a couple of those places while you're out there, ostensibly to
"check out the users" but also to spread your company's name around and give
it an aura of caring deeply about its customers.

If you've been with the company awhile, you should by now have a good idea
of the company's way of viewing and approaching things. If you don't have
it, then you'd be well advised to get it. Then match up what YOU want with
what the company MANAGEMENT wants. That's salesmanship, and that's when you
stand a chance of borrowing Dad's car.

Tim Altom
Vice President, Simply Written, Inc.
317.899.5882 (voice) 317.899.5987 (fax)
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