Ok, so you’ve got just under a week until CMX Summit West 2016 general admission tickets are available. One week until you make your dash for tickets before they sell out (early bird tickets sold out in three weeks). One week to convince your boss that sending you to this conference is the best idea for the whole team.

Fear not! We’re here to help.

First, some words of reassurance: Very few bosses are going to be upset that you’re trying to get better at your job. But making a pitch to your boss is all about convincing them this is what they want, not just some fun two-day getaway for you. So don’t labor on why you’re excited; focus on why this is a good investment.

Explain Why Investing in Your Development is Valuable

Hopefully your boss gets this, but if not, you have to make the case. Thankfully, we’ve got some numbers to back you up.

Profiting From Learning: Do Firms’ Investments in Education and Training Pay Off?

This research paper found a $680 increase in training equaled a 6% increase in total stockholder return and a significantly higher profit margin.

How to Make Employee Training a Winning Investment

“One entry-level employee who took advantage of the company’s paid-time-off and reimbursement programs to earn additional certifications increased his billing rate from $125 per hour to $175 per hour, resulting in about $100,000 of additional annual revenue for the firm.”

Investing in Employee Tuition Benefits Yields Significant Financial Payback for Major Corporation, Study Finds

“An analysis of health insurer Cigna’s Education Reimbursement Program (ERP) shows every dollar the company puts into the program is returned and generates an additional $1.29 in savings—a 129 percent return on investment.”

This last one is the easiest to apply to your organization. You simply multiply the amount you’re spending by the savings mentioned above and multiply that by the number of years you expect to be at the company (estimate high, your boss likes that). Then just subtract the cost of the ticket. Looks like this:

[ticket price] x 1.29 x [years at company]
-[ticket price]
= Added value to company

So if you were planning on being around five years (sure, maybe it’s three, but round up) and your ticket price is $800 (because you’re grabbing our group tickets at $50/off a ticket), it’d look like this:

$800 x 1.29 x 5
= $5160
– $800
= $4360

Yep, spending money on this one conference is actually going to SAVE your company over $4,000! Plus, it’ll make your community programs much more likely to succeed and excel.

Make a List of What You’ll Learn

We’ve made this REALLY easy this year, with focused sessions on areas like engagement, support communities, developer communities, employee engagement, and acquisition & retention-focused communities. Take a look at our current speaker and workshop teacher list and schedule. We’ll be announcing a whole new round of speakers on Tuesday, September 6th.

Focused on proving ROI? We’ll have two talks focused on just that. Trying to drive engagement? Stay tuned for a big announcement about this.. Moderation a big focus or challenge in your community? Join Scott Moore’s workshop on Day 1 and watch Emiliana Simon-Thomas’s talk on Day 2. Focused on support communities, developer communities, employee engagement, or acquisition/retention? We have sessions for you.

By telling your boss exactly which talks you’re planning on attending and why, it’ll show that you’re thinking critically about the value you’ll get from the event.

Top that off by pointing out that there is tons you can learn from leaders like Alexis Ohanian (co-founder of Reddit), Scott Shigeoka (IDEO), Emiliana Simon-Thomas (Greater Good Science Center), and more to be announced.

Point Out the Rave Reviews

Boss unsure if this “CMX Summit” thing is legit? Feel free to share some of these quotes:

  • “I’m still quoting speakers from CMX Summit days later. It was inspiring, engaging, and actionable.” – Danya Cheskis-Gold (Spark Capital)
  • “CMX Summit confirmed that my work is both necessary and important. It was such a pleasure to be around people that understand my job — they rejoice in my triumphs and share in my sorrows. It was an invaluable day of learning and networking. I will definitely be there next year!” – Jordan (Founding member, TED-Ed)
  • “If you run a Community and can only attend one conference next year, CMX Summit is IT!” – Katie Harris (HP)
  • “If there’s one conference any CM should attend, make it this one. Whether you’re new to the community world or a hardened vet, you’ll come away from this conference brimming with ideas and inspiration.” – Ligaya Tichy (Yelp, Airbnb)
  • “Never before have we seen this breadth of speakers discuss community management. The CMX Summit planning team took us into the higher, philosophical levels of what managing communities means on so many different levels: behavioral, habitual, psychological, etc. We discovered what rituals a community needs and what metrics you should be watching for growth. Thank you for sparking an incredible discussion on where this space is and how many amazing things this network of people can do in the future.” – Erika Murdock Balbuena (Twilio)
  • “CMX Summit was a fantastic investment of my time. I learned a ton and made some new relationships that will greatly benefit my work. I’m definitely going to make this a habit.” – Eric Meyerson (Eventbrite)
  • “It was the perfect mix of prompting big-picture conceptualizing and strategic thinking around the work we do, sharing nuts and bolts tactics, and getting to have some really fun conversations with other folks in this work. I came back to work on Friday feeling so excited to put new ideas into practice and just so jazzed to be doing this work.” – Katie Vallas (DonorsChoose)
  • “The best place to learn about and meet professionals in the community space, led by a group that’s defining the entire industry.” – Meghan Murphy (HandUp)
  • “It was a great opportunity to meet other passionate community professionals and also key into the trends in the field. I walked away from many of the talks with actionable items, and inspired to make improvements at my job.” – Karlie Drutz (Blackbaud)

Emphasize the Importance of a Support Network

The folks on stage are amazing, but the folks in the seats beside you are pretty fantastic too. We’ve got attendees coming from all sorts of companies. This is only a partial list of the amazing companies that have attended previously:

CMX Summit attendees

Point out to your boss that the more people you know in the space, the more resources you have when you need to get feedback on an approach, see if someone has done what you’re doing before, or just need moral support.

We build a significant amount of fun, easy (even for us introverts) interaction into both days so you can leave with new colleagues, mentors, and even best friends.

Take a Cue from Others in Your Organization

Your boss might not get why you need to go to a conference, especially if she doesn’t go to many herself. But you might not be alone!

Find some time to chat with co-workers in other departments. How often do they go to conferences? How do they justify them? This gives you great insight to bring back to your boss.

Bring Other People, Save $$$

CMX Summit group tickets (minimum 3) are each $50 cheaper each than a standard ticket. So you’ll be showing some good financial thinking by finding two others to join you.

Is there another department that focuses on community? Perhaps someone in support hoping to start a support community? Or a HR/People Ops staffer who would get a ton out of our employee engagement section? A developer who wants to build out your open source offerings or activity around your API? Start asking around and see if you might be able to loop in some coworkers and save serious dough.

Another option: consider bringing your boss. It’s one thing for you to tell your boss that community is important, that there’s a whole industry around it, and that you should go to this conference. But better than telling your boss? Showing her what community is all about.

Bring your boss, and she’ll hear from leaders and CEOs about how important and powerful community is and learn from practitioners about how complex and amazing your role can be. Your boss will come away with new appreciation for your work (and will probably send you back next year!).

Here’s what one of our attendees said about getting her boss on board for the big day:

“My manager leans on me a lot for guidance and strategy around reaching our community. When CMX Summit was announced, I immediately pinged him for permission to attend. I also suggested that he go with us as an opportunity for him to learn more about what we’re doing and why it’s so important. I’m lucky to have a boss who doesn’t know much about community development, but is incredibly open to learning, and knows that it’s a necessary investment.”
– Mary Thengvall, SparkPost and Co-Host of Community Pulse

Need an E-mail to Send? Grab This and Personalize Away!

Dear Inspiring-Fearless-Leader-Boss,

There’s a conference being organized specifically for community builders called CMX Summit. It’s on November 1st and 2nd in San Francisco.

It’s an extremely high quality event that a large percentage of my peers in the community industry will be attending. CMX Summit has really become the premier event for our industry and gotten rave reviews from folks at Airbnb, Salesforce, Google, Wells Fargo, and more.

There are a few clear value points that make a ticket for this conference a smart investment for our company:

1. I’ll pick up clear tactics to apply directly to our community strategy that will help us improve [X] metrics and plan for the future. I tentatively plan to attend the following sessions:

  • [Session Title 1]
  • [Session Title 2]
  • [Session Title 3]
  • [Session Title 4]

2. I’ll be learning from people who have built community at Reddit, Google, Facebook, IDEO, American Express, and more…not to mention all the attendees I’ll get to network with (in the past, people from Apple, Google, Buzzfeed, and more have attended). Personally, I’m hoping to ask [speaker name] about [topic] during the Q&A.

3. It will improve my ability to communicate with the rest of our team around our community strategy.

4. I’ll have a much larger network of peers to support and receive support as we face community challenges in the future.

5. Lastly, you’re investing in me and this is an extremely important event for my professional growth. Investing in my personal development means a great return for the company. One example of this is Cigna – they saw $1.29 in savings – a 129 percent return on investment – for every dollar spent on personal education. For us, that could mean [value estimate] in savings over the next [# years] just from me attending this one event.

The good news is tickets are pretty affordable – they’re going to be $849 for a 2-day ticket once the next round of tickets is opened September 5th. If you’re interested in attending as well, I believe it will give you additional clarity around the work I do and the role that community can play in our business. It will also help us work together to elevate the level of discourse we’re able to have internally about community’s value. And if we bring 3 people, we’ll save $150.

Please let me know if I can answer any questions for you. Apparently early bird tickets sold out in 3 weeks, so I’d love to act soon. The CMX Team is available to answer questions directly as well at [email protected]!

Thanks,

-Your ambitious community pro, who is working hard to grow and engage this community to generate serious business value

Evan Hamilton

Evan Hamilton is the Director of Community for CMX, where he organizes CMX Summit and CMX Series events. He has been in the community profession for nearly a decade, having worked at UserVoice, ZOZI, and Coursera. In his laughable spare time, Evan organizes Community Manager Breakfast in San Francisco and plays music as Kicking Tuesday.