It is good to participate in conferences. No doubt, conferences are the most convenient and effective way of forging new business connections. However much you know, you can always learn something new. At least that is what usually happens to me. If you live in a western European city, you are part of the general circulation of business life. But if you live on the periphery, you do not as much have your finger on the pulse of activity. For those of us living in eastern/central Europe, we first need to cross our borders to do some real networking and forge some personal relationships.
This usually requires many hours of travel and the expenditure of considerable costs. And you never know if it will ever pay off. Ask me in five years’ time how well this money was spent and I will let you know.
Now, I'm in the process of establishing business contacts for my small, start-up enterprise, hopefully not in vain. But if I don't try, I will never know. "If you don't make the call, you don't make the sale", as they say. As an aside, can anyone remember when only a select few people could even cross the iron curtain? If you do, you will appreciate the benefits of being able to attend an event of this sort taking place in a foreign - meaning western - country.
Is it not a trying experience to participate in such an event? Well, yes it is...it can be very cumbersome. But - at times - it is much less cumbersome than rearing three small children at home, I assure you; so let's get on with it, shall we? To begin with, a wellness hotel is not the only place of relaxation, is it? Next is how you get there. You can either take a budget airline, which is cheap but somewhat inconvenient. Or you can go by train, which is comfortable and not very pricey. There are night-train services all across the continent. This is not meant to be an advertisement for them, but I'd like to call the attention of Wi... - sorry, air passengers - to this affordable and comfortable means of transport. You board the train in the evening, get a good night's rest and get off the next morning full of pep and energy, ready for networking.
The word "conference" sounds very sophisticated. If I close my eyes, I see wise and knowledgeable speakers, sharing the secrets of their profession with us mere mortals; I see audiences who came from long distances to learn, to return home enriched with newly-acquired knowledge. Reality is slightly - but only slightly - different. Only a few speakers are called on to give a presentation and it is an honor to be invited to give such a presentation. An invited speaker is usually a renowned expert in his field. Others become presenters by sending a speaker-request submission form to the organizers through the internet, offering to talk on a particular subject. If the organizers like the subject, they give the green light. This process affects the quality of the presentations, and not always favorably, I might add.
My area of research is legal English; this is the topic of several conferences. I would like to select out the European Legal English Teachers' Association (EULETA) for emphasis. The International Association of Technical English Trainers (IATET) has also made a good impression on me; it has bi-annual conferences in Ulm, Germany. Then there is the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (IATEFL) which has a sub-group called Business English Special Interest Group (BESIG), also holding several useful seminars every year. I have not been able to attend any events of the newly-established International Association of English in Law and Insurance (IAELI), but knowing the founders, I am convinced that it also has useful operations. Freelance translators attend the Business and Practice translation conference series, taking place in a different city every year.
My favourite group - the EULETA - has an annual event. I have never been disappointed in the standards applied at EULETA conferences and workshops. Legal English professionals come every year, both from academic and business backgrounds, to discuss the most-recent ideas, teaching methods, results of research and their general experiences.