Personally, I love conferences. I would call myself as a conference junkie; however, in practice I don’t attend very many conferences mainly because my company doesn’t send me places (though I believe they would get more bang for their buck if they did in most cases) though I am working on that (any good conferences for 2010?). Here are a 7 reasons why we all should attend conferences:
#1: It breaks the normal, everyday routine.
For some people this can be very stressful; however, for most, this will be a relief. My personality is such that if I do the same thing a few days in a row, then I am about to pull my hair out or do something exciting just for kicks or do it even slower because of procrastination, etc.
#2: It gives me a fresh perspective.
Because it breaks the normal, everyday routine, it changes my perspective. It allows me to immerse myself in something else (even if it is what I do every day). There is a change of people, place, and pace of normal everyday life.
#3: It is personal (and/or leadership) development and education.
Whether this is development in soft skills or technical skills or competencies, conferences provide a phenomenal way to invest in myself. Furthermore, most conferences do focus on the new, next big thing, the cutting edge, or any other new ideas available.
#4: It helps develop my personal network.
More and more I realize the importance of a professional, personal network outside of my company. This does a lot of things. First, it gives you insight to the customer (whether internal or external). Second, it provides you an avenue to explore and discuss ideas. Third, it also gives you a “backup plan” (i.e., a way of finding a new job if necessary?).
#5: It’s fun!
What’s better than a “paid working vacation” where I go somewhere for the sole purpose of attending a conference. Yes, some conferences are not as exciting as others; however, everything is what we make of it. So there’s tweeting at a conference, tweetups, “free” lunches, etc.
#6: It is inspirational.
Most conferences I’ve been to have always inspired me to do at least one new thing, or it has re-ignited my passion for something that I am already doing, whether it is something that I have slowed down or stopped working, or gotten bummed about, etc. Regardless, general sessions, breakout sessions, workshops, and seminars all can prove to be rather inspiring. For me, the breakout and smaller sessions are much more valuable than the general sessions.
#7: It is exciting to see and meet certain people, like speakers, bloggers, etc.
In this digital age, I know a variety of people through writing whether it is blogging, tweeting, or whatever. However, there is a missing component to each of these people. It’s the way the sound, the way they talk, the way they hold themselves, the way they interact, etc. While I am not the best at reading people, I know a few people that read people like books in 5 minutes. For example, the other day I was talking with someone (who is really excellent at reading people) about a blog/blogger, and they said something interesting to me, “I’ve read XYZ Blog for a while now [she went on to tell me about her favorite parts of the blog], and so I had an idea about who [he/she] was, how [he/she] acted, and what [he/she] sounded like. However, I recently saw a video of [him/her], and I did not picture [him/her] that way! But now that I’ve seen him/her, his/her blog makes a lot of sense to me.” So going to a conference, we get a more real picture of the people we interact with electronically.
So do you like going to conferences? Why or why not?