I’ve attended a few women’s professional development conferences in the past and have wondered, does anything really change after attending a women’s conference? It turns out, it does. Your odds of increasing your salary are higher and on average you’ll feel more optimistic about the future if you attend a women’s conference.
Professional Development Women’s Conference: What To Expect
There are many benefits of attending a leadership conference. I’ve attended both the Simmon’s Leadership Conference and the MA Conference for Women in the past. Both are absolutely amazing. I’ve attended in years when they’ve had speakers such as Michelle Obama, Billie Jean King and Tory Burch.
Main Stage Speakers
Every main stage speaker is so inspirational and you leave in awe of what they’ve accomplished. The dialogue tends to focus on the challenges they had to overcome and you leave feeling if they could overcome those obstacles you too can accomplish your goals.
Women’s Professional Development Breakout Sessions
The breakout sessions you attend give you more tangible knowledge on what to change to be more successful. One I participated in during the Boston Women’s Leadership Conference was about Ego in the Workplace, led by CY Wakeman, and it shared data on how drama in the workplace wastes over 800 hours/ year. Isn’t that crazy? Think of how much time you can get back by reducing this even by 10%.
Networking With Other Women
Throughout the women’s conference it’s also a great opportunity to network with other women. Typically, there are a lot of women from the companies that are sponsoring the program. If you’re trying to get your foot in the door at one of these companies it’s a great opportunity to network with the women that work there. Additionally, many companies have an employee referral program. If you make a strong enough connection, having that referral can increase your odds of landing that interview and will also help the referrer get a bonus.
Women’s Professional Development Conference Exhibit Floor
Women’s conferences usually have an exhibit floor which includes booths from the sponsorship companies, book signings and more. I really like the recent additions of professional photo opportunities for free. It’s important to have a professional photo for LinkedIn and it’s great the conference brings this directly to you. Usually it takes a few weeks for the photographer to email you the picture.
Post Women’s Conference
After a women’s professional development conference, we usually bring back what we learned to our teams, sharing a few things we’ve vowed to do differently. But then fast forward a few weeks and things return to normal. That initial excitement has died down and it seems like not much has changed. Was all that time spent and money invested by your company thrown out the window? What does the data tell us about the impact Women’s Conferences make? It turns out there has been at least one study done on this, and positive outcomes were observed.
Study: Outcomes of Attending a Women’s Conference
Shawn Anchor wrote in the Harvard Business Review about a study he partner on of 2,600 women to observe financial outcomes and intellectual outcomes that occurred in the year after the women attended the conference. They also studied this for the research group and the control group to account for any changes in the larger economic landscape across the same time period.
They found that there were positive outcomes with only 5% of women in the control group receiving a pay increase of more than 10% compared with the 15% of women who attended the conference. Additionally 78% of women who attended the conference reported feeling “more optimistic about the future” and 71% of attendees said they “feel more connected to others” after attending.
Personal Outcome of Attending Women’s Conferences
Looking back, I have attended at least one leadership conference for women every year of my career, with possibly one exception. Every year after attending I have received a bonus. In the last 9 years I’ve also been promoted 4 times. What I learned by attending these conferences around negotiation, leadership attributes and networking definitely helped me get where I am today. I also learned about the importance of sponsors and how it’s not enough to have a mentor.
At the conference, it’s also nice to be around so many women in the same industry. Often at work I’m still one of only a few women. I also love running into ladies I’ve worked with in previous roles and staying connected with my network.
Personally, I haven’t taken a new job after reconnecting with my network at one of these conferences. While at a women’s conference though I learned of new job opportunities that I could apply for through running into a former colleague. These conferences also motivated me to start thinking bigger, including looking into how to invest in startups. I’m always excited to attend these conferences and I hope everyone that attends next week has an amazing experience!
See Also: Why You Need a Career Sponsor
Best Conferences for Women
There are a ton of great conferences for women globally! Here is a list I’ve compiled on the best conferences for women.
Have you ever attended a Women’s Conference? What results have you noticed for your career or you personally after attending?