The Benefits of Attending Conferences

Posted by Brett Young | Friday, January 23, 2009 | , , , | 0 comments »

Given the current economic climate, companies may try to save money by cutting out conferences. While it is certainly prudent to scrutinize requests to attend conferences, it would be a mistake to simply eliminate them all together. Here are five unique benefits of attending live conferences:
  1. Assessing the Marketplace - Conferences are an efficient way to learn about industry trends across the breadth of the conference scope. In less than a week you can pick up a good sense of what's hot and where things are heading. Most of us simply don't make the time during our regular jobs to research and think about the breadth of where the marketplace is going.

  2. Networking with Attendees - Most companies of similar size share the same struggles. And yet, they are all at different places on the maturity continuum. It's highly likely that you will find other attendees who have successfully solved the problems you're working on right now. Similarly, you may be able to help someone else. It's great to build a list of peers whom you can tap on occasion. Social tools are making it easier than ever to maintain connections after these brief encounters.

  3. Interacting with Industry Experts - Only at a conference will you find lots of experts in one place, and willing to share their knowledge for free. Make a list of all the big questions you would like to ask experts at the conference. Attend sessions that align with your questions. Ask your questions in the session, or after the session, if they are not covered in the presentation.

  4. Connecting with Vendors & Solutions - Say what you will about vendors at conferences. However, I always walk away having learned about a few companies and offerings of which I was not previously aware. I've been able to solve real problems with solutions I found only as a result of attending a conference.

  5. Thinking Creatively - When I'm at work, I'm focused on completing quality deliverables by their deadlines. My creativity increases exponentially when I'm at a conference, away from the normal office distractions, and surrounded by new ideas, new people, and a new environment. I always come away from a conference with pages of new ideas.
Lately, I've been wondering whether the current economic and environmental challenges will make live conference a thing of the past. Have conferencing, social networking, and virtual worlds matured to the point that a virtual conference can deliver the benefits above? I have my doubts.

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