Submit. Click. My proposal for CERIC’s 2021 Cannexus conference is on the way. Will there be an in-person conference in January of 2021? No one knows at this point, but why should a pandemic stop us from coming together – either in person or online? One thing is for sure, Cannexus will take place in some form.
What do we tell our clients all the time? Think outside the box, be prepared, be flexible, be creative, expect the unexpected. If that advice is good enough for them, it should be good enough for us.
I would have to do some serious research to determine how many times I have hit that “submit” button to present at Cannexus and its predecessor, NATCON. It’s been a substantial number, and I’ve attended – and presented at – many of those conferences over the years. And I’ve done it in just about every way possible: roundtables, panels, breakouts, pre-conference, Mega session – everything but a Keynote actually (nudge, nudge, wink, wink!).
Why do I do it? Well, what better venue is there for career development practitioners to get together, network, share best practices, learn, exchange ideas and have fun? There isn’t one. Some provinces have fantastic career conferences, and I’m sure they would agree that Cannexus offers us something above and beyond those provincial venues, including international guests and ideas.
Through Cannexus, I’ve met so many great people over the years, people who have become mentors, friends and colleagues. (People who don’t skate on a slushy canal as well as I do, or eat as many beavertails.) It’s great to see familiar faces every year, and to welcome newcomers who have never been, but are so excited to be there. Cannexus has also been good for my business, as I often get hired by someone to do some training or speaking about career development. It’s been a fixture in my calendar for years. And where else would you want to be in late January than Ottawa?
If we can’t meet in person in 2021, I’m all for a virtual conference. The technology in this day and age allows for some very cool ways for people to connect. I’m learning lots about Zoom and Ecamm, for example, as I move my speaking and training business more online. The potential for having many more global practitioners join us is also a very compelling reason to go online.
No, people won’t be able to physically hug, shake hands or spill food on each other – and some delegates might only be dressed from the waist up – but I still think it’s very important that we gather, in some way, in January of 2021. Instead of thinking about what won’t be the same, and comparing a virtual conference to a face-to-face conference, why not let the creative juices flow and see what we can come up with that would still be exciting, fun, educational and meet the purpose of connecting career practitioners?
Besides, this is a time that clients need us the most, because of circumstances they have never had to deal with before. And, we need each other for help and support, so we can get through this in the best way possible. This is a road never before travelled, and we don’t have all the answers as individuals, but collectively, we can share what’s working with our clients during this pandemic, and what isn’t. We’re better together.