Thursday, November 6, 2008

What conferences are good for

I've been to a lot of conferences. If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you've seen my commentary on various conferences I've attended this year and my thoughts on what makes a good conference workshop, etc.

But what I really think conferences are good for is meeting new people and hearing new ideas. It doesn't do much good to attend a conference and only talk to the people you came with. Its nice to catch up with people who you know but rarely see, but honestly, you could contact most of these people outside of the conference structure. And workshops--well sometimes they are great and sometimes not so much. I recommend you check out vendors and see what they're up to. Do they have new products, new services? Could any of the ideas that people are talking about help you? Or find other people who you might otherwise think of as competitors and talk to them about your shared challenges. You never know how valuable these conversations can be, and it never hurts to have more friends who know your pain.

Next week, we'll be in San Jose at DevLearn '08. I'm excited to meet new people and talk about what the learning needs are in their organizations. I always find that these conversations spark new ideas, or revisions to my existing ideas. Sharing knowledge is powerful and I think conferences CAN facilitate those types of interactions.

Next time you attend a conference, make a list of things you want to learn more about, or people you want to talk to, and seek them out.

If you'll be in San Jose next week, come find me at the Tandem Lounge. I'd love to meet you.

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