How to Convince Your Boss to Pay for a Conference

Andi Galpern

Welcome to our new series about how to convince your boss. We want you to gain the confidence to ask for what you want.

Scenario: You want to attend a conference in New York City, but you live in San Francisco.  How do you convince your boss to pick up the tab? There are a few things you should do before you ask your boss to invest in you.  

Step 1

Check to see if your company has an employee education fund

Scott Smith, Chief Revenue Officer at CloudApp, suggests to first check to see if your company has a fund for ongoing employee education.  The money might already be there for the taking, you just need to fill out a form. When Scott worked for Facebook he was regularly surprised by how many employees weren’t aware of or didn’t use the benefits that were made available to them.

Often large companies will have an education budget that is usually part of your corporate benefits.  This might be something like $5,000 a year to attend conferences or take classes.  If there’s no money waiting for you, proceed to step 2… which is prepare to talk with your boss.

Step 2  

Make it easy for them to say “Yes!”

Before approaching your boss it’s important to prepare as much as possible.  The more questions you answer up front, the easier that it will be to close the sale.

Create a Google Doc.  List all of benefits and costs to attend.  This includes:

Basic information

  • Your request
  • Date, time, location, speakers and attendees
  • How much time it will take away from your work
  • How your team will stay productive without you in the office

List the valued benefits of attending

  • New skills you’ll learn
  • How these new skills will benefit the company
  • Deliverables – Will you write articles about the event?  Will you teach what you learned to other team mates?  

How much does it cost?

  1. Break down the costs in full.
  2. Create a spreadsheet with the full cost including airfare, hotel, conference passes, additional workshops, food and drinks, and entertainment.

Jared Spool created a downloadable persuasive one-sheet to convince your boss to sponsor your ticket to his conference. You can use this as an inspirational template.

Step 3

Get in touch with your boss

Email your boss with the full outline or schedule a time to sit down and talk.  Hopefully they will say yes, but even if they don’t, don’t take it personally.  They could be tight on funds or they might want you to stay focused on your work and not go out of town for a conference.  They might approve a partial conference. For example they grant you a $1,000 budget and two days off of work.   But the conference costs $2,000 and lasts for four days.  In this case, you’d choose if you want to pay out of your own pocket and take PTO time off.  

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