It’s been a busy last month or two, so you’ll have to excuse me that I’m a little late in addressing this issue, but I’ve noticed quite a few people talking about conferences on Twitter, with various people arguing about whether or not the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football program should finally go ahead and sign up for a conference.
Many have espoused the opinion that they really should do so in order to best position themselves for the future in an ever-shifting landscape driven by business decisions and power players making big moves — and to me that really makes a lot of sense.
Others, I’ve noticed, have adamantly countered that Notre Dame would lose its identity and what makes it special by considering a conference, which honestly just seems incorrect to me, considering the current landscape in college athletics.
I think the time is ripe for the Irish to do a little research and then hitch their football wagon to a conference (or two) that makes sense for them.
Let’s dive into the reasons why.
1. National Reach
I keep seeing people say that the Irish will cease to exist as a national program with a national reach and a nationally-beloved brand if they were to associate themselves with one of the major conferences, but honestly that’s just wrong.
Conferences exist to connect people within the same industry, allowing for fantastic networking opportunities that could help people share ideas, learn new ways of doing their jobs, improve themselves, and even eventually lead to a better work opportunity down the road. They allow folks who would normally not get to interact much, if ever, to network and build relationships that could become mutually beneficial over time, if not immediately.
I gotta think that if the Irish football team were to dive headfirst into a conference, they’d really see more wide-reaching benefits than power-shrinking disadvantages, especially when it comes to their ability to meet people from all across the country within their industry.
2. Improving the Team’s Level of Play
Another significant benefit to conferences is the ability to learn about key research and innovation in the industry, which can only serve to improve everyone’s performance and drive them to seek improvements internally in order to keep up.
Conferences allow folks to bring those ideas to the masses, generating buzz for their businesses, sparking high-level debate, and engendering the refinement of new ideas that will hopefully one day lead to the “next big thing” that pushes a program or a team or a business to new, unforeseen heights.
Additionally, conferences allow one to see what experts and competitors are doing, providing a key lens into how to proceed/respond within your own organization. Just imagine if there was nothing like CES in the tech/electronics/appliances space for companies to present new products and ideas, scout the competition, and identify the big trends moving forward!
Notre Dame football is no exception to this — I have to think that the Irish could learn a lot — whether it’s football-specific or fitness/health related or just about leadership and motivation — and come out of a solid week at a conference with new ways of working, innovative methods and processes, and brand new products and services that could ultimately help the program improve upon its already strong state and push toward that elite level occupied by the best of the best.
The answer won’t always come from within — participating in industry-wide conferences will help broaden the funnel of information that will drive future ND football teams to victory.
3. Team Building/Energizing the Team
We all see it in our jobs — things can get monotonous, with the same weekly meetings and seeing just our coworkers and the stress of delivering annual targets leaving us all feeling uninspired to try something new, make big bets or large changes, look externally for inspiration, etc.
That kind of feeling is never good for any organization, and so attending a conference is important in terms of engaging one’s team, energizing them with something new and different and exciting, and allowing them to get outside their typical comfort zone and grow closer together as a group as they navigate a different scenario featuring new people and ideas from around the industry.
I have to think it would really get the Irish program energized and grow them closer as a group if they got to attend a conference together in a different city — the above reasons absolutely apply.
Energizing the squad is what biznus is all about!
4. It Looks Great on A Resume
This especially applies for anyone from the team who presents on an idea/concept/product at a conference, but even to just say that you attended certain conferences can really add some credibility to a resume.
As a school that preaches “4-for-40” to its recruits, this seems like a no-brainer advantage to signing up for a conference or two.
5. Wine and Dine on the Company Dime!!!
Last but certainly not least, who DOESN’T love to spend a few days traveling and eating and imbibing on the company dime? Conferences are a great excuse for folks to let loose, have some fun, and blow off some steam all while the organization pays for it. That’s just the best, isn’t it?
I can’t imagine the Fighting Irish program would disagree with me — it’s always a blast to wine and dine without worrying about the check. Expense it, baybeeeee!!!!
So, I guess I just don’t really understand why so many folks online were pushing back so hard against conferences. To me, they’re an excellent and somewhat-necessary part of working in most industries, and really help you expand your network and reach, improve your go-forward strategy, establish a more credible set of knowledge and experience, bring new life to a team stuck in a rut, and just have some fun with some like-minded individuals.
Please let me know in the comments if you agree or disagree — maybe I’m way off-base, but I honestly don’t think you anti-conference folks have thought this one through.
Please see below for several sources I researched and consulted in writing this article. Thanks to all of them for their help!!!
- Conference Monkey Team. “8 Benefits of Attending Conferences.” Conference Monkey, 1 Aug. 2018, conferencemonkey.org/advice/8-benefits-of-attending-conferences-1038397.
- Crabbe, Jessica. “Don’t Go It Alone: 5 Benefits to Attending Conferences with a Team.” SXSW EDU, 31 July 2018, www.sxswedu.com/news/2018/five-benefits-attending-conferences-team.
- Curtis, Simon. “Why Do People Attend Conferences? 5 Key Reasons for Attendees and Event Organizers.” Curtis & Coulter, 7 July 2019, curtiscoulter.com/why-do-people-attend-conferences-5-key-reasons-for-attendees-and-event-organizers.
- Goddard, Debbie. “The Benefits of Attending a Conference.” Club Managers Association of Europe, www.cmaeurope.org/the-benefits-of-attending-a-conference. Accessed 3 Aug. 2021.