Cannexus is much more than Professional Development

Cannexus Conference 3

By Sharon Graham.

Now that I’ve finally recuperated from my Cannexus15 adventure, I would like to tell you about it. As a self-employed professional, I have limited funds to spend, but this conference is well worth the investment.

Anyone who is self-employed knows that it’s difficult to take time away from work and home life, but for the last three years, I’ve made it a point to treat myself to this event. For me, the Cannexus conference is about making new connections, reconnecting with old friends, and getting caught up on just about everything related to career development.

What’s it like to go to Cannexus? It’s a whirlwind. Rather than write in my typical formal news post style, I’ll try to offer something different. I’m not much of a storyteller, but here goes.

CPC table at Cannexus Conference 2015Cannexus15 started early. Taking my seat on the train in Toronto, I was surprised when CPC member Trisha Grace settled in beside me. Imagine my excitement when I realized that I had found a like-minded professional sitting right next to me! We spent much of the ride chatting about our respective careers, family life and much more. I learned about Trisha’s international experience working in Japan, much of which she now brings to her work at George Brown College.

Wayne Pagani and Carol Brochu, CPC members and now long-time friends, picked us up at the train station. Carol brought along some delicious munchies to help me keep my strength up at the hotel – in between the fabulous breakfast and luncheons put on by the Cannexus team. After all, the next three days would be a rush to all my career development senses.

At the hotel and conference centre, Carol Brochu and I joined Cathy Milton. We set up our CPC exhibit before setting off to reconnect with some more CPC members and other colleagues over drinks. All this—and Cannexus hadn’t even started yet!

With over 150 education seminars and networking opportunities, Cannexus is known for some of the best professional development available for career practitioners. This year, thoughtful keynotes from The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Jaime Watt, and Dr. Nancy Arthur set the standard and tone of the event.

Cannexus Conference 7Even though I consider myself an introvert, the conference allows me to be social. The atmosphere is friendly and collegial. Everyone is approachable and it’s easy to talk with other professionals.

As an exhibitor, presenter, and supporting organization, CPC was front and centre. Regional Ambassadors, Kevin Schafer and Wayne Pagani presented CPC’s session, “The Law of Client Attraction” and supported CPC’s Networking Breakfast Meetup.

Cannexus Conference 4CPC members and non-members came by the CPC exhibit to say hello to Cathy Milton and myself. Over two days, we were able to personally meet many of the 750-plus delegates and speak about our member benefits and certification programs.

With so many sessions to choose from, I found it difficult to decide which events to attend. Since my time was limited, I selected only those that I felt would benefit my own career development and CPC’s organizational objectives. I was able to get informed through sessions such as the Career Development Certification Triad presented by leaders from Alberta, Ontario, and Nova Scotia.

Cannexus Conference 6I was lucky enough to have made it into a packed mega workshop called Dying to Live: Breakthrough Stress and Health Practices presented by Ken Keis.

Cannexus hosted a very special series of TEDx-style presentations called Spark! As someone who has listened to many TED talks over the internet, I really enjoyed being part of the audience.

Cannexus Conference 5For me, one of the best parts of the conference was being able to see the grateful winners of several CPC door prizes over the course of three days. We were able to present two door prizes during our session: The Best Canadian Resumes Paperback Book and the Best Canadian Cover Letters Paperback Book. CPC’s networking meet-up was also a success with our own Maureen Farmer winning a six-month CPC Membership extension. Graziella Delignou-Allaf won the Best Canadian Resumes Series at our exhibit draw.

During the conference, I was invited by CCDF to a wine and cheese event for the latest Stu Conger Award recipient.  As a judge on the Stu Conger award committee, I was so pleased to be able to attend the ceremony and congratulate Mark Franklin in person.

Even when the conference is over, it’s not over. CPC enjoys an integral role on the Canadian Council for Career Development (CCCD.) I participated in a post-conference general meeting, bringing together luminaries from across Canada and beyond. All in all, it was a wonderful ending to a spectacular week.

Attending conferences does bring a measurable return on investment in both career and business opportunities. This year, I was invited by Gillian Johnston, chair of the Ontario Board for Career Development Practitioners (OBCDP), to serve in an advisory capacity. CPC also benefited with a few new memberships, some new applicants for CPC certification, and a number of book sales.

Cannexus is my yearly professional development retreat. Once a year, I make it a point to get together with colleagues and friends. Conferences are an opportunity to learn by engaging in topics that interest us. Inspirational trailblazers teach us about current issues. Bright minds show us new ways to look at things. Knowledgeable scholars give us tools to deal with challenges and dilemmas. Leaders in our field collaborate to enhance and promote the work we do. And most of all, getting together with colleagues and friends is loads of fun!

Let’s continue the conversation. How do you benefit from attending conferences?

Sharon Graham is CANADA’S CAREER STRATEGIST and author of the top-selling BEST CANADIAN RESUMES SERIES. Founder and executive director of CAREER PROFESSIONALS OF CANADA, Sharon is committed to setting the standard for excellence in the industry. A leading authority on resume, interview, employment and career transition, Sharon provides career practitioners with tools and resources to enable them to provide exemplary services to Canadians.

Photos courtesy of CERIC, Wayne Pagani, Cathy Milton and Sharon Graham



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