Getting Approval to Attend Section Meetings

Does everything around you seem to be moving too fast for you to keep up with? Every day we get news of global warming, conflict between nations and within nations, world economy, national economy, local economy, stock markets falling, automobile companies and banks failing, jobs being lost, governments—national, state, and local—wanting more money, and, yes, inspection departments being downsized and in some cases being closed. With all that going on, it’s no wonder we feel that things are happening too fast, things that we personally can’t seem to affect. What can we do? Keep spending like we have plenty? Cut back and if you do, what do you cut back on? Many times the first thing that comes to mind is to reduce the number of associations we are dues paying members of, but if you do that, don’t you lose many things that benefit you?

Being a member of IAEI affords many benefits that are sometimes taken for granted. Can you get elsewhere the same networking opportunities that are available through attending seminars, reading and contributing to IAEI publications such as the IAEI News, being a part of the code-making process, and by participating in the many other opportunities available through IAEI? In times like these many people are looking for opportunities that are a part of being a member of IAEI. Opportunities like attending division and chapter meetings to learn about and to share with others the day-to-day problems or situations that are faced in the field, opportunities like attending the annual meeting of your section, or maybe like traveling to another section’s meeting in Everett, Washington; in Bloomington, Minnesota; in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada; in Burlington, Vermont; or in Honolulu, Hawaii.

“Oh yeah,” you are saying to yourself, “my employer is sure to send me to a section meeting during these times.” We all know that people are cutting back on sending their people to conferences, if not doing away with your position altogether; so, what can be done to convince those that control the money that an annual section meeting is necessary even in economic times like now?

I remember the IAEI 50th anniversary meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana. The meeting committee offered to send letters to the individual’s employer, outlining the program and learning opportunities that would be available to the attendee. That message helped some to be able to attend.

I just read an article by Mary Boone, president of Boone Associates, where she relates ways to show how attending and participating in conferences can be promoted by members in today’s economy. Here are her four ways to build a business case for attending an annual meeting:

1. Write down the three to five most important strategies or issues being addressed in your organization right now.

2. Think about how you personally contribute to those strategies. How is your work aligned with the larger organization’s strategy or mission? Make a list of three “personal contributions to the strategy.”

3. Look at the proposed agenda for the meeting and mark the sessions you want to attend that relate to your personal contributions to strategy, and also make a note of speakers or other people at the meeting you would like to meet.

4. Write a short business case for how attending these sessions and meeting these people will help you contribute to the organization’s strategy. Use this business case to make your request for attending the meeting.

Another point she makes is the importance of the meeting host committee sending out information that relates to the above points. Many times we just build a program and hope the people will come. But in today’s environment more must be done to assure attendance to make the annual section meeting a success. This goes for chapter and division meetings as well.

If you, as a member of IAEI, choose not to even try to attend an important event, as the annual section meeting or the local chapter or division meeting, you could affect the abilities of IAEI to adapt to the times and to thrive into the future. You are important to IAEI.

IAEI continues to look for ways to provide additional benefits to its members. In addition to the ones already mentioned, many other initiatives are in the works or have already been made available. A member benefit that has been recently offered to the membership is an insurance program that available in all fifty (50) states and in Canada and Mexico. A partnership agreement with Homeland HealthCare offers members insurance benefits in a convenient affordable package. Check out for the link to Homeland HealthCare. Homeland HealthCare will be making telephone contact with members, so be aware that this call is an attempt to provide you with information about the insurance programs available and is not a high pressure sales call. If you don’t want to be bothered again, then just inform the person to remove your name and number from the list. Many have asked for this type of insurance. Check out for more information.

Also, other educational opportunities in the form of on-line training are forthcoming.
Remember: Be Proud to Wear the IAEI Brand! And, IAEI needs YOU!

James W. Carpenter
Former IAEI CEO and Executive Director, and Editor-in-Chief for the IAEI News, James Carpenter was previously the chief electrical engineer, state electrical inspector for the Engineering Division of the Office of State Fire Marshal, North Carolina Department of Insurance. He had been with the department for twenty years, with twenty years electrical experience prior to coming to the state. He was a member of CMP-2 from 1987 to 2002 and was chairman for the last three cycles. He has been a member of IAEI since 1972. He was also a member of NFPA and is serving as the TCC chair and on the Standards Council. He was on the UL Electrical Council.