Six Strategies for Getting Maximum Benefit Out of Cannexus19

By Maureen McCann.

Each year that I attend the Cannexus career development conference, I am in awe of the people (presenters, attendees, exhibitors, and organizers), the presentations, and the shared learning. I am not exaggerating when I say that the energy and excitement in the Cannexus venue is palpable.

Cannexus is the national bilingual conference put on by CERIC and held in Ottawa each January. This year, it all happens between January 28th and 30th. It’s an invaluable opportunity for career professionals from coast to coast to come together and share their expertise with one another.

Whether it’s your first time attending or your tenth, here are some strategies you can use to help make the most of Cannexus19.

  1. Do your homework in advance on presenters and exhibitors. Before you arrive in Ottawa, have a look at the presentation outlines and the presenters’ bios (there are so many to choose from). Comb over  CERIC’s program and decide on your first and second choices in each block of time. Download and make use of the Cannexus App. You can organize your preferences by schedule, speaker, sponsor, and exhibitor (yes, you should make a list of exhibitors you want to see; time goes by so quickly when you’re there, you may not get to see everything!). Two years ago, I set a goal of learning more about The Canadian Journal of Career Development, so I focused on meeting the editor, Diana Boyd, at Cannexus. This led to my first publication in the Journal on the topic of Military to Civilian Career Transitions.
  2. Set goals for learning. There is a lot to take in at Cannexus. I like to focus on one or two areas of specialization. This year, I’ll be looking for future-of-work topics. Last year, it was career development for kids and youth. What are your areas of specialization? You’re sure to find expert speakers in those areas who are more than willing to share what they know. Speaking of learning, mark your calendars for Tuesday, January 29th. At 12:15 PM, Sharon Graham and I will be co-presenting Optimizing Résumés: Extinguishing Myths and Misconceptions. During this casual luncheon networking session, we’ll brainstorm current strategies for creating targeted résumés that meet the needs of recruiters and employers while also being optimized for applicant tracking systems (ATS) and social media. We’d love to see you and your colleagues there!
  3. Challenge yourself to meet your career hero (or heroes). When I started my journey in career development, the textbooks I studied were written by Norm Amundson and Gray Poehnell. To me, they are the rock stars of the career development world. I made it my mission to attend both of their presentations at Cannexus and to meet them in person. (Secretly, I wanted a selfie with both of them and maybe their autographs, but, at the time, it seemed a bit weird to ask!)
  4. Make contact. Many career professionals teach others how to network, so it’s no surprise there are outstanding networkers in attendance at Cannexus doing what they do best: helping others by sharing the names of helpful and relevant network contacts and connecting people to other great career resources. It is a sight to see! On Tuesday evening, January 29th, please join CPC members and friends for a fun and lively face-to-face meet-up. Put faces to the voices that you may have heard via tele-networking calls and podcasts.
  5. Remember to be yourself and have fun. I have to admit, I get nervous going to conferences, especially because I don’t travel with a buddy who can join me for meals (and save me from tripping over power cords!) As a result, I have to put myself out there a lot more often than I’m used to. With my heart pounding, I arrive at a nearly full table and ask, “Can I join you?” or “Anyone sitting here?” I swear career professionals are the friendliest people! They always go out of their way to help. If the table is full, people start looking for other tables with empty chairs and point me in the right direction. So, relax and put yourself out there a bit. While you’re at it, don’t be surprised if you make some new friends. I’ve already mentioned CPC’s Ottawa meet-up. This is one of the events I really look forward to every year. It’s a casual social gathering of career professionals where I can truly relax and have fun. The positive energy created by those in attendance is awe-inspiring. Please register, join us, and meet new colleagues. You won’t regret it!
  6. Implement what you learn right away. There are so many takeaways from Cannexus that it can feel a bit overwhelming. Each day you’re there, ask yourself: “How will I implement this information once I get home?” Make it a SMART goal. After Cannexus17, my planned action was to write a blog post about my experience. I wrote it while I was still at the conference and then posted it after I arrived home.

If you’re like me, you’re already excited about attending Cannexus19. Remember that attendance is a significant investment in time and money, so plan ahead to get everything you can from the experience. I promise you that it will be a memorable and beneficial professional development gift to yourself.

How do you plan to make the most of Cannexus19? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments.

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