Can CIO communities and networking events actually help your career?
CIO conferences and events are often promoted as being excellent for career building and networking – and in today’s economy, which is fueled by digital transformation and innovation, it is more important than ever for CIOs to stay abreast of the changing digital world.
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However, these communities, while beneficial, also have their drawbacks.
Below, we’ll look at a few examples of CIO communities and networking events, then learn what to consider when evaluating them.
Examples of CIO Communities, Networks, and Events
A handful of professional networks are available for CIOs, such as the CIO Professional Network or the CIO Executive Network. Networks such as these offer an excellent avenue for building relationships with other CIOs.
However, there are far more events and conferences than there are CIO networks – and since they also offer many of the same benefits as a professional network, they should be investigated closely.
CIO events, summits, and conferences come in many shapes and sizes. Some are specifically designed for CIOs, others are geared towards a more general audience.
Here is a short list of some conferences and community-building events that can be useful for CIOs, as well as other IT professionals:
- Gartner’s IT Symposiums
- IDG’s Virtual Symposium
- CIO.com’s Events
- WalkMe Realize
- Landmark CIO Summit
- ERTL-YANG CIO Summits
- Microsoft Ignite
- HMG Strategy Summits
For more CIO events, check out our article that covers the top CIO conferences to attend in 2021.
What Happens at CIO Networking Events?
Every CIO event is different, but they tend to follow the same general outline as other conferences and events.
CIO community gatherings and networking events will often include:
- Panels and presentations
- Discussions and roundtables
- Opportunities for one-on-one dialogues
- Social gatherings
Naturally, each event will have a different makeup, a different focus, and will cover different topics, such as best practices, trends, and emerging technologies.
Here are just a few examples of the types of topics covered at these events:
- Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI)
- Big data and analytics
- The Internet of Things
- IT trends
- The future of work
Ultimately, CIO events, like other networking events, are designed to foster a community and help participants forward their careers.
Pros and Cons of CIO Communities and Events
Before attending any CIO event or conference, it is important to evaluate your options carefully and weigh the benefits of attending against the drawbacks of not.
CIO communities are a great way to:
- Learn from peers and other industry experts. It may seem obvious, but it’s easy to forget the importance of learning from others. Too much time spent in your own organization can disconnect you from authorities in your field.
- Build your network. Networking is a staple of any business professional’s career, and CIO communities are a great way to connect with like-minded people and build your list of contacts.
- Discover new technology and business trends. Find out what’s new in technology and marketplace trends because it helps you stay up-to-date and be ahead of the competition.
- Find new growth opportunities. It’s difficult to predict what types of opportunities could arise at a community event. These can include finding new customers, new vendors, new business partners, and more.
- Promote your business. Another reason employers may want CIOs to attend these events is because they offer opportunities to promote one’s own organization. Referrals, after all, are one of the most powerful forms of marketing.
These benefits certainly make a strong case for attending CIO events and joining communities. However, there are a few drawbacks to be aware of.
Cons of CIO Communities
Here are a few things to consider when evaluating CIO communities:
- Not all CIO networks are created equal. On the one hand, it’s great to have a dedicated community to interact with. However, not all events and networks bring the same caliber professionals. Like any community, it depends on who you get involved in with and how you interact with them.
- CIO communities require an investment of time and money. CIOs are busy people and the more time that you spend networking, the less time you spend working at your organization. They also come with a price tag, so it is important to balance the financial and time investment against its potential return.
- They can be unproductive. CIO communities are a great way to build relationships with other CIOs, but they can also become a distraction, just as Facebook or any other social event can become a distraction.
- CIO events are short. The relationships built through CIO community events can last a lifetime. But the events themselves are often very short, so they are not very useful for long-term skill-building. For that, it is a good idea to consider investing in certification and training programs, such as leadership development programs, IT certifications, and so forth.
In short, it is important to evaluate each CIO community on an individual basis to ensure that it meets your needs.