Aloha! I recently returned from the beautiful island of Oahu, where I was attending our professional association conference. Our association, The Association of Image Consultants International (AICI) hosts a conference each year in a different location in the world and offers an opportunity for members to increase their professional skill level and network with each other to improve their professional practice and business.

Why is it important for consultants to belong to and participate actively in our professional organization? Here are the top three reasons why consultants attend conference and how it benefits their clients:

1. To increase knowledge of specific image consulting techniques and best industry practices. When consultants are educated on current trends and practices, they can immediately apply this information to serve their clients more fully.

2. To gain opportunities to volunteer with the association to network and build a portfolio of skills. When consultants volunteer with their regional or international boards, they add to their professional knowledge on how their communities work and they can pass these skill sets on to clients who also wish to build their professional image via giving back to their communities.

3. To network with other consultants at the international level. This allows consultants to advise their clients on international practices and cultural differences that they may encounter in their travelling or business lives.

Most importantly, participating in an international organization and holding certification from your professional association increases your knowledge, skills and credibility. If you aren’t participating in your field’s professional networks, you may wish to consider how giving your time can directly benefit you and help you serve your clients and communities more fully.

Oh and yes, we had a great time, too

We were on the 27th floor of the Waikiki Beach Marriot, just a block from the beach.

On the second day in Hawaii, we went to the Polynesian Cultural Center, where we saw many different aspects of the islands, including people demonstrating the art of coconut gathering as practiced in Samoa.  Did you know that in Samoa, the men do all the gathering and cooking? Another man showed us how to make fire with hibiscus wood and to husk a coconut very quickly!

And of course we spent most of our time in seminars. This is the lovely Carla Mathis, giving a session on consulting techniques and skillful compassionate questioning.

And then there was the beach, on the last day. It’s pretty hard to beat.