Why I Like Conferences
I’m sitting at an airport on my way to Catalyst ’09, a leadership conference in Atlanta, to sit on a panel about compassionate service. Later this week, I’ll be back in town in Irvine, CA to help facilitate Unleashing Beauty, a global leadership conference.
I recently looked back on my travels to conferences this year and I have to say, I’ve been to A LOT! Most the conferences I go to are ones I speak at or facilitate. I’ve been to conferences of all shapes and sizes with all kinds of subject matter. I even went to a twitter conference this year. 🙂 Oh yeah, I’ve hosted a few conferences myself called the Idea Camp.
So, am I conferenced out?
I’m not and here’s why…
Even though I hear constant complaints (often legitimate) from people who dislike conferences, I have to say that there is much more to benefit from actually participating. Now, given our economic climate and call to good stewardship, I would recommend that you carefully choose which conference to invest in (yes, I think it should be a conscious investment of resources). I try not to pick something because it is popular or trendy.
Here are some reasons why I attend conferences:
- Wisdom – I love the wisdom I gain from practitioners (and yes, not all are practitioners) when I attend conferences. I appreciate those who would take time to guide conversations or present content this is applicable to my setting. I also enjoy sitting next to and getting to know others in the trenches. I choose to be open to learning.
- Networking – I realize that workshops or talks will rarely change significant things in my life. Nevertheless, I do recognize that one great connection or networking opportunity with another person can lead to life change. Friendships and potential partnerships uncovered at conferences are priceless. I will always invest in networking. The great news is that you can network if you choose to see the opportunities…just don’t be a jerk about it 🙂 (Not everyone wants to connect with you.) I choose to connect with people.
- Encouragement – I usually walk away from conferences encouraged. If anything, I’m always encouraged by people who come together in order to better themselves as human beings and/or refine their mission. I know that there probably are conferences that don’t do this that well. The good news is that we can choose to be encouraged if we want. Don’t blame a conference solely for the lack of benefit. Often, it’s more a matter of our hearts than the actual conference. I choose to be encouraged and be an encouragement to others.
Some Questions for You:
- Which conferences do you attend and why?
- What do you like about conferences?
- How can conferences improve in the years to come?
Look forward to hearing from you!