Every industry at one point or another has a conference. Writers, artists, IT experts, security experts, dairy farmers; I could go on, but I think you get the point. Do people really get anything out of going to conferences or not? There is an ongoing debate about whether or not you should go to an industry conference and I cannot pass up a good debate, so here are my two cents.
Pros of Attending Conferences
The most significant advantage of attending conferences is the chance to network. Relationships with like-minded individuals are not something you can put a dollar amount on; they are invaluable. At first, you might not see immediate results, but down the road someone you met at a conference might be able to help you, or even better, they might need you!
Without first building a relationship these opportunities cannot happen. A great conference will give you many opportunities to establish and build relationships. Industries that use live event apps such as DoubleDutch—an industry leader in such things—understand the power of networking and will maximize these opportunities.
You can never learn everything, but that does not mean you should stop trying. Educational opportunities abound at conferences. You never know what you might learn at a conference, be it a chance meeting with someone with similar experiences or an enthralling keynote speaker.
For example, maybe you are running a business and looking for ways to engage your customers and attract readers. Maybe you run into someone, like yours truly, who just happens to have written an article about engaging posts and attracting search engines.
Industry conferences can help you advance your career. An opportunity may arise out of a relationship with a fellow conference attendee or you apply knowledge gained to a task at your current workplace that gets you on the radar for promotion. You never know what can happen as the result of going to a conference.
Further, attendance at conferences may give you a leg up in interviews. It shows you are engaged in whatever your industry happens to be and that you are willing to do whatever you can to ensure high quality, up-to-date work.
Cons of Attending Conferences
Conferences are not cheap; they cost money. Some companies see the value of conferences but cannot afford to send their employees; maybe you have to pay your own way. Some conferences are cheaper than others, but you are not just paying for admission. If you are are on your own, you need to pay for lodging, travel, food, and any other costs that arise as a result of you not being home, not to mention, time missed from work if you are self-employed.
The most popular conferences are crowded and it can be easy to get lost in a sea of people and information. If you are an individual attending a conference, it can hard to get noticed, and you are already spending an awful lot of money to not be noticed. It can make it difficult for introverts to build relationships through networking.
Too Much Information
Speaking of crowded; some conferences have so much going on, it is easy to miss out on things that would be beneficial for you. Yes, this “con” is one that is within your control more than the others but it can be very disorienting walking onto the conference floor for the first time and seeing everything they have on offer. Before you go to a conference, especially a larger one, consider my advice about how to avoid information overload.
Sure, there are pros and cons to attending conferences in any industry, but the pros outweigh the benefits by a large margin. If your career or business is truly important to you; you need to do whatever you can to take in as many conferences as you can. You never know what will come of it, but I can guarantee nothing will happen if you stay home.