Each year I attend the Cannexus conference, I am blown away by the people, the presentations and the shared learning.
Cannexus is the national bilingual conference put on by CERIC and held in Ottawa each January. It is a chance for career professionals from coast to coast to come together and share their expertise with one another.
Whether this is your first time attending or your 10th, here are some strategies you can use to make the most out of the next Cannexus, taking place in Ottawa from January 27-29, 2020.
- Challenge yourself to meet your career hero. 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 and meet them in person. (Secretly, I wanted a selfie with both of them and maybe their autographs, but that seemed a bit weird at the time.)
- Read up on presenters and exhibitors. Before you arrive in Ottawa, have a look at the presentations and the presenters (there are so many to choose from). Spend about an hour combing over the program from CERIC and decide on your first and second choices. You can do this via the CannexusApp as well. 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 made it a point to meet the editor, Diana Boyd, at Cannexus. This led to my first publication in the Journal on Military to Civilian career transition.
- 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? Add a note in the comments and maybe you will find someone with the same interests.
- Make contact. Many career professionals teach others how to network, so it’s no surprise there are really great networkers helping others share contacts and connecting people to other great career resources and people. It is a sight to see.
- 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. With my heart pounding, I arrive at nearly full tables 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. When the table is full, people start looking for other tables with empty chairs and point me in the right direction. So, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and have fun.
- Implement what you learn right away. There are so many takeaways from Cannexus that it can feel a bit overwhelming. Ask yourself each day you’re at Cannexus: “How will I implement this 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 there and posted it after I arrived home.
If you’re like me, you’re getting excited to attend Cannexus20. How do you plan to make the most of Cannexus20? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments.
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