Top 10 Reasons to attend a Technical Conference – in Person

Would you like to convince your boss to attend a software development/agile/dev-ops or other conference IN PERSON (as opposed to simply reading the proceedings after the fact)?

If you’re not sure how to convince your boss to let you attend, this page is for YOU!

Many IT conferences today are devoted to agile or measurement or Project Management or Dev-Ops or other specialization, but when you find one that suits your specific needs, it can be burdensome and tough to convince your management why you ought to INVEST in attending.  After all, in today’s “connected” world, why not just attend a webinar or podcast instead?

Consider the following 10 compelling reasons you should be able to leverage with your bosses:  (note, if you can’t affirm any of these, perhaps you shouldn’t be attending at all…)

  1. The sponsoring organization should be a reputable one and the conference well-organized. Be ready to explain to your management the logistics of why you should attend THIS conference. Take a bit of time and DO YOUR RESEARCH so you can answer:
    • How many attendees are expected?
    • Who will be attending (companies, countries, job titles, etc.)?
    • What are the topics that will be covered that you can’t learn from a book?
    • Where and when is the conference? (I.e., are there closer venues with the same content at a lower cost?)
    • How will attending this conference benefit your company and your job?
    • What is the track record of this conference? (i.e., testimonials of past attendees, is it growing or dwindling)
  2. NETWORKING! Person to person networking is one of the biggest pluses about attending a conference in person.  Good networking opportunities afford one with the benefits of learning from others who have similar challenges and have solved the same problems as you face.  If you’re not a good networker or are  painfully shy, talk to the conference managers to find out what they do/will do to ensure a good networking environment.  There’s nothing worse than going to a conference alone and not meeting anyone you hoped to meet.
  3. MEMBER DISCOUNTS.  oFind out about member discounts in terms of conference fees, airline or hotel travel discounts.  Often there are earlybird rates for both fees, hotels and travel that might save you up to 50% off the regular price. Some conference feature alumni rates or group discounts that make attendance pricing more attractive.
  4. MEET THE LEADERS.  If you want to meet those in the know who are leading the conference (and likely also the industry) – check out and plan to attend any “new member orientations” or “meet the board” networking events.  It is a fun and easy way to meet the leaders and share your vision of  the organization.  (You might also be asked to volunteer which is a great way to get more involved.)
  5. COMPRESSED LEARNING – Multiple days of KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER  Check to see if the conference promises (and delivers) friendly and comprehensive schedule of pre- and/or post- conference workshops to encourage networking, sharing of best practices and lessons learned. If you’re already at the conference, you might as well leverage your attendance by adding on a pre- or post- conference workshop.  Often these are less pricey than individual workshops separated from a conference.
  6. Check the LINE-UP OF SEASONED SPEAKERS – some conference organizers assume that a “double blind” selection of speakers and topics will produce the best conferences for attendees. Unless you are attending an academic conference where bleeding edge research is being presented, if you choose to attend a technical conference which chooses speakers in this way, you’ll end up listening to novice speakers who often have few presentation skills.  Human beings learn best when there are seasoned presenters who can deliver content in an engaging fashion.  I’ve spent far too many conferences listening to people who read their slides and are not well versed in their  presentation material (often presenting someone else’s slides) that I no longer have the tolerance for speakers who are unpracticed.  If I want to gain insight from a researcher (who might write well but cannot deliver a good presentation) – I would prefer to read their manuscript or their Powerpoint slides at a later date.
  7. Continuing education credits – these can stack up with ONE conference. If you have one or more certifications that require continuing education credits to stay valid (or to extend your certification) – you might want to search for a conference that will provide you with credit for your attendance.  Sometimes one conference can be used as credit for multiple certifications – thereby leveraging your conference investment several times over. Check with conference organizers (and your certification provider) IN ADVANCE to ensure your credits will be provided.  (There’s nothing worse than attending a conference with the promise of credits that the organizers thought would be valid and the certification body later denies you credit.)
  8. LEVERAGE YOUR ATTENDANCE WITH A VACATION! Depending on the location of the conference site (especially if it is in the U.S.) – hotel rates are typically the same whether you have one person in your room or up to 4 (check to be sure.)  This might mean that for the cost of an additional airfare you could bring along a spouse/significant other/friend without incurring additional hotel costs.
  9. WORKSHOPS BY EXPERTS. When a conference attracts top talent to be speakers, there are often novel innovative workshops offered that are not part of the speaker’s normal repertoire of courses.  To offset costs of travel (many speakers actually have to pay their own travel expenses and even contribute to the cost of the conference and are seldom paid – especially at technical conferences ) – speakers will offer 1/2 day to 1 day special workshops. At times these offerings can be more beneficial to attendees than even the main conference.
  10. BONUSES – BEST PRACTICE SHARING, SOCIAL GATHERINGS, IMPROMPTU OUTINGS with like minded professionals! There are likely many opportunities to connect with others and save loads of time and money by engaging (talking to) experts who have solved the same problems you face today.  Professionals who are successful love to help others who are struggling with the same issues they faced, and at the same time you’ve found a shortcut to a lot of frustration and rabbit holds.

That’s it – make sure that the conference you’ve chosen is the best fit for your needs (not just the best location for fun and adventure!) – and you’ll discover that an in-person attendance can connect you quickly with a combination of speakers, insights, bright attendees, leadership, and willingness to share at a single venue.

Let us know if this helps you!