To grow your career in campus recreation and wellbeing, you have to get out there and meet other professionals who are passionate about this work. So, if you’re hoping to attend a premier learning and networking event in 2022—like the NIRSA Annual Conference & Campus Rec and Wellness Expo—but you’re not quite sure how to go about asking your employer to consider funding the trip, here are a few tips to help you convince your boss.

Before you approach your boss to present your case, you’ll want to be prepared. Convincing any manager to let you attend a conference is all about being persuasive and communicating how the conference will benefit your campus community and help you do your job better. Remember, the cost to attend a conference includes more than just registration fees. You will have to factor in other expenses. Ultimately, your manager will want to hear thoughtful justifications for your attendance. Here are some tips to help you explain to your supervisor what makes NIRSA 2022 so unique and worthwhile.

Tip #1: Get acquainted with the conference program and details.

Before you discuss attending the conference with your boss, you’ll want to be sure you’ve thoroughly explored the conference agenda and speakers. Familiarize yourself with all the options being offered and start thinking about which sessions align best with your organization’s objectives and aspirations. Ask yourself: what are our short-term and long-term goals? Then, determine which sessions are likely to help you and your team achieve these goals.

You may also want to find out other key details, like:

  • How long the conference has been running (this will help highlight the level of quality you can expect)
  • Dates and times (and whether they will conflict with any current responsibilities)
  • Membership or early registration discounts that may be available

Tip #2: Identify the specific workshops and sessions you’d like to attend and articulate your “why.”

Create a sample agenda outlining your session and workshop selections and write out specific justifications for wanting to attend each selection.

You may also want to think about which speakers or presenters you’d like to network with. Create a list of four or five presenters who will have the most relevant knowledge to share and develop a few questions you’d like to ask them. You can use this list of speakers and questions as another tool to help you prove that the conference will be a worthwhile experience and that you are prepared to make the most of it.

Tip #3: Outline your top reasons for attending.

Explain to your manager why the NIRSA Annual Conference & Campus Rec and Wellness Expo is unique and why it’s worth attending.

We recently shared some of the consistently cited reasons for attending the NIRSA Annual Conference & Expo. In your own words, prepare to articulate the benefits to your organization that will result from your attendance. A benefits worksheet can be a helpful tool in working through your reasons for attending.

Tip #4: Make a formal request to attend (if required).

A compelling request letter will include all the information that your boss needs to make an informed decision:

  • Be straightforward in your introduction and state your top three reasons for attending
  • Articulate how the event will benefit you, your organization, and impact your ability to contribute to current priorities or upcoming initiatives
  • Consider including a few details about sessions you’d like to attend and names of speakers you’d like to network with.
  • Include an estimated breakdown of costs. (How much do you need for travel, meals, lodging? This will provide you with a negotiating tool; your boss may be willing to send you if you can find a way to reduce meal or lodging costs.)

Convince your boss toolkit

Being prepared, organized, and enthusiastic in your request will make it easier for your boss to decide in your favor and support your professional growth. NIRSA has prepared a sample request letter, as well as expense and benefit worksheet templates that you can tailor to your goals. Check out the convince your boss toolkit available on the NIRSA 2022 website and be sure to register by February 16 to take advantage of early bird registration discounts.

Download the toolkit

Director of Events & Experiences at | NIRSA Profile

Sierra Smith is currently the Director of Events & Experiences at NIRSA.