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Using Conferences to Overcome Limited Exposure


By Randall Hanifen
Contributor, EDM Digest

I spoke with a colleague who completed her dissertation on limited exposure to positions that one would desire.  She stated her dissertation focused on African-American exposure to well-paying jobs and careers.  However, this theory can be applied to public safety agency executive positions.  Have you ever heard the chief of an organization say he or she would have not taken the job if they know what was involved?  How did they not know what was involved.  Did they not work in the organization?  They may have, but each position requires a significantly different skill set and tasks that may not be completely evident from outside of that position.

Use Conferences for Networking

Each agency has a training budget and will send its employees for training conferences in most cases, but what is the focus?  Likely it is you need to come back with a certain amount of pieces of paper that show you attended certain courses. I would propose that you require a certain number of business cards from other conference attendees that you did not know prior to attending.  More strategically, you need cards from your rank and higher and the follow-up strategy for that contact.  This may surprise people, but most organizations have many of the same issues and problems; most caused by people.  You may not have the issue now, but you might soon.  This is a good chance to learn from others and build relationships that will allow you to make a short phone call or email exchange and see how an issue affected another organization or person.  If you connect with the next rank above your current rank, you may be able to develop a mentor that can share their experiences, both positive and negative so that you may make an informed promotion decision.

You took time to go to an industry conference, get the most out of the opportunity.

Randall Hanifen Dr. Hanifen serves as a shift commander at a medium-sized suburban fire department in the northern part of the Cincinnati area. Randall is the CEO/principal consultant of an emergency services consulting firm, providing analysis and solutions related to organizational structuring of fire and EMS organizations. He is the chairperson and operations manager for a county technical rescue team. from a state and national perspective, he serves as a taskforce leader for one of FEMA's urban search and rescue teams, which responds to presidential declared disasters. From an academic standpoint, Randall has a bachelor’s degree in fire administration, a master’s degree in executive fire service leadership, and a doctoral degree in business administration with a specialization in homeland security. He is the associate author of “Disaster Planning and Control” (Penwell, 2009), which provides first responders with guidance through all types of disasters.