I like conferences. They’re great.
Conferences can be such a positive thing for someone’s professional trajectory.
However, after some quality thinking time (a rare find, but crucial to schedule), I had this epiphany after recently attending an online/email marketing conference in NY recently: Conferences are great for one reason.
But first, let’s break down some of the other valuable and valid reasons to attend a conference. (What? You thought I was just going to tell you the one reason? Nah, this is like ‘Millionaire’ – cutting to a commercial break right before the bomb drop.) See if you can get it from gathering all the comprehensive reasons.
1) You get to get out and step away from the usual grind. And that’s a freeing feeling.
I can’t speak for everyone in the whole world, but most of the people I know experience a little charge of energy when they can get a change of scenery and get outside of the usual four walls of their normal environment. Maybe it’s not four walls; maybe it’s a “mobile office” or back-to-back-to-back meetings and lunches and meetings and brunches and community events and late lunches.
It’s good to clock out of that for a little while. Get into some new surroundings.
2) You get to learn.
And I love to learn.
You’re talkin’ to the person that would still be in college if he could have ever figured out a way to get paid to continue to be a student. I love learning. It’s one of the reasons I love what I do; I will never “know it all.” The concepts in online marketing aren’t just deep (there is always potential for new levels of understanding) – but they’re also ever-changing.
The conference itself, if it’s a good one, is usually packed with several learning tracks. And the material is relevant. (I suppose that might sometimes depend on things; some people ‘get sent’ to a conference by their bosses and they might find themselves slightly outside of this but still, for the most part…)
Not only is the conference itself valuable for learning – but …
3) You get to meet other people in your industry. And it always feels good to connect with other people.
As I was saying… not only do you learn from the organized conference material, but you also get the opportunity to talk to many other like-minded-similar-situation people in the room. You meet others and listen to their experiences and how they creatively come up with professional solutions to their problems.
It’s really enlightening.
And I’m not just talking about the other conference attendees either; I kept a running tally on the people I met (31 logged) just in and around the city. Hiroshi from Japan, Jim, the successful commodities investor on the plane, Beth, the 21 year old sober-for-2-years blogger who was empowering others through her writing, to name a few.
I even traded a beer for a Spanish lesson on the Met’s rooftop (Thanks Ivan, Gracias y buena suerte con el resto de la escuela). Who knew one could get a lession en Español at the Met? So…
4) You likely get to travel to a different city and absorb some of its culture and local attractions.
I’ve already shared that I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I only made it through a third of the museum the last time I was in the ‘City.
Sure, in point no. 1, I said you escape your usual work environment but this adds to that. While I was planning this New York trip, I fervently resolved to make every moment count! I don’t get opportunities like this everyday.
Other than the day of the conference, I scheduled
- a lunch appointment with one of my marketing mentors,
- time to roam and meet people (ALWAYS be networking),
- time to visit the Met,
- visit the Top of the Rock (good luck to Edwin),
- take slow-mo video on my iPhone to add to my media collection,
- and treat my hosts to some dinner at a few of the local restaurants and delis.
These are just sub-points.
I originally sat down to write something about my trip and kept whittling down points. And though all the ones listed here are valid, they really fall under one single simplified super reason to attend a conference.
No. 1: To get inspired.
Yup, all the above is spot-on but it really all falls under the umbrella of “getting inspired.” Let’s recap.
- When you get out, you get a bit of a recharge. You need that from time to time. You may need it often.
- When you learn new things, you get inspired and the new things entering your brain start to trigger millions of new ideas. It’s great to get unstuck.
- When you meet others, and make an effort to connect with them, you’ll often find that you might be able to help them in some way. They might, you. Or not. The reciprocal assistance isn’t what’s crucial here. It’s that meeting and learning from others also helps to propel your thoughts. That not only leads to ideas, but also motivation. If you can make a habit out of motivation, you’re really gonna have a leg up on most the world.
- When you absorb some culture and things unique to an unfamiliar place, you give your brain permission to check out some from its usual thinking parameters. It’s good to give you brain a break and oddly enough, it’s during some of these think-breaks that you come up with some of the best ideas.
Next conference you have coming up, and you’re on the fence about attending, just ask yourself, “Will I come away from this event inspired?” If the answer’s yes (and you’re not breaking the budget), then go get inspired.