How to Get Your Employer to Approve Your Participation in SLAS2013:

Develop a Sound Rationale

Don't just ask the powers that be to approve "your trip" to SLAS2013. Instead, present them with a sound business case that rationally justifies "your participation" by illustrating the benefits they can expect to receive in return for their investment.

Keep your employer's priorities in focus, and do not presume that your employer will automatically recognize what appears to you as intrinsic value. Be as specific as possible, and give examples.

Your participation represents a serious business decision, and should be approached with professionalism. For example, you might think it's nice that the conference is conducted in Orlando, but it's unlikely that your employer will see value in how you might enjoy a break from the snow.

Consider what matters to your employer::

  • What current issues have your employer or department or you been struggling with? Do any of the SLAS2013 presentations or exhibits address these issues? Do any of the exhibitors offer potential solutions?
  • Can you find just one idea that might increase productivity, elevate experimental data quality, reduce lab process cycle times, or enable experimentation that's otherwise currently impossible?
  • Has your employer been considering new equipment? One-on-one feedback from front-line developers and real-life users can greatly inform your purchasing decision.
  • How does your employer compare to similar organizations? Which of your competitors or industry leaders will be sharing their perspective and achievements at SLAS2013? What can your company learn from them?
  • How would your performance improve and how would your organization benefit if your network of professional contacts expanded to include experts from around the world?
  • Is your employer hungry for new talent? Do SLAS2013 attendees and exhibitors offer the resources your employer is interested in recruiting?

Consider what matters to you:

  • Compromises can become dealmakers when budgets become tight. For example, you may offer to use personal vacation time or frequent flier miles to reduce your employer's investment and enable your participation in the conference.

Examples of Appropriate Rationales

  • SLAS2013 will help me to better understand _____ and thus improve our company's performance in ______.
  • This conference gives me the opportunity to meet experts and professionals from different parts of the world and different industries, exchange ideas, and learn about different methods and techniques. These experiences will enhance our company's current mission and goals in these ways:_______.
  • This conference will keep me current with new technology trends and techniques that I will bring back to the company and share with my co-workers.
  • I will network with others to enhance our company's profile and gain appreciation for our talent and achievements.
  • Attending this conference will increase my knowledge of _____. I will hear the newest theories and see examples of their integration. I can directly incorporate this knowledge into __________.
  • To be productive, it is necessary to stay current with new technology, applications and ideas. Attending this conference will allow me to ensure our company is up to date in the areas of _________.

Examples of Inappropriate or Incomplete Rationales

  • It will help me do my job better. (How?)
  • I can benefit. (How can your employer benefit?)
  • My co-workers can benefit. (How?)
  • It's the place to be. (Why?)
  • I know someone who went and liked it. (How did his or her company benefit?)
  • It looks good. (Which presentations in particular apply to your employer's best interests?)
  • We have attendance to one conference in the budget. (Why? How does participation outweigh the savings of not spending the budgeted amount?)
  • I'd love to go to Orlando. (SLAS discounts and travel programs make SLAS2013 more affordable than ever.)

Sample Request Memo

From January 12 - 16, 5,000 laboratory scientists and technologists will join forces in Orlando, FL, for SLAS2013. I have carefully evaluated the conference agenda as well as the list of more than 275 exhibiting companies, and feel that if given the opportunity to attend, I can accomplish a great deal that will benefit our organization.

I believe these presentations would be of particular interest and value to our company and priorities:

  • Insert list of presentations here, and note how each may relate to a current or upcoming project:
  • Mass Spectrometry and Specific Peptide Enrichment by Jane Doe of Big Name University (should directly apply to the Very Hot Project we plan to launch in April)
  • Integrated Drug Discovery Using Microfluidic Enzymatic Assays by John Doe of Important Research Laboratories (should allow us to compare our performance with this industry leader)
  • Automating Assay Plate Creation Using a Flexible High-Throughput Application Architecture by Barbara Sharp of Expert Company (should help us re-evaluate our workflow for next year)

Personal contact with these exhibitors would allow hands-on access to their technology and one-on-one discussions with the scientists who developed it.

  • Insert your list of exhibitors here, and note why contact with each may be of interest.
  • Company A, Company B, Company C — explore alternatives to current pipette tips
  • Company D, Company E, Company F — compare LIMS reporting accessories
  • Company G — talk with staff scientists about our validation challenges with their machine

In addition, [insert additional rationale/justification here.]
Including applicable registration discounts and travel assistance programs from SLAS, I estimate the total cost for participation to be $$$$. This is based on roundtrip coach airfare, # hotel nights, taxis to and from airports, conference registration, and a $ per diem for # days.

I am highly motivated by this opportunity, and hope you will agree that it promises a meaningful return on our investment. I will touch base with you next week to further discuss the possibility of my participation.

In the meantime, more details are available at SLAS2013.org. Thank you for your serious consideration of this request.