Why Attend Conferences?

“He who learns but does not think, is lost! He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger.”
– Confucius

As a frequent conference attendee and speaker, I thought I would focus on the value of these types of events for this week’s post.

There are many reasons to attend conferences, the most obvious being education. As a professional, it is important to continue to learn. Today’s marketing world changes daily, so what you learned back in college or your first few years on the job may not apply today. You can gain more from one day at a conference than from all of the blogs and articles you can read in a month.

Learning through conferences is also great for personal development. It keeps you fresh, energized, inspired. There is nothing like being in a huge banquet room in a beautiful hotel filled with people who share your same passions. The energy is undeniable. Pulse is an essential part of that. You miss out on context with blogs, trade publications and the like. Seeing the reactions of those around you helps you keep an eye on the pulse of the industry. The experience of actually being there to participate in the discussion makes it much more worthwhile than your everyday podcast or webcast.

In that sea of like-minded individuals can even be your next client, colleague or friend. The networking at conferences is yet another valuable element. Contacts made while grabbing a coffee or lunch between sessions can be well worth the time and cost of the conference alone.

For these reasons – and many more, I make a habit of attending all of the conferences that my schedule will allow. I hope to see you all at my next event – the Retail Advertising Conference in Las Vegas on Feb. 25-27 – where I would like to buy you that cup of coffee. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you will be in attendance.

RAC 2009


Categories: books, future, marketing, retail

Tags: , , ,

2 replies

  1. I would like to echo Zain’s positive and enthusiastic support for energetic participation at conferences. Far too often, in times of economic downturn, conferences become one of the very first things to suffer budgetary cutbacks. So in these uncertain times, it is a good moment to assess the benefits that acrrue to the attendee, and to his/her organization.
    Zain has listed some of these great values and benefits, but I would like to add some additional reasons to justify continued conference participation, especially in tough times.
    1) Basic ROI considerations… if you return with one good idea, one good qualified lead, one meaningful networking contact, the return on your investment of time and money is fantastic. If you elect not to participate in the conference circuit, and your competitor comes home fully armed with those great ideas and leads, you have now fallen even further behind. Tough times can breed very creative, and envelope-pushing ideas, will you even be there to hear them?
    2) It’s the right thing to do. Supporting your respective trade organizations or other relevant groups creates an arena of shared commitment. Zain mentioned keeping an eye on the pulse of an industry. Continued participation helps maintain that pulse; without it, any organization begins to look pale and ill. It’s part of the table stakes for being a member of the guild. Sparsely attended shows start to foster the self-fulfilling prophecy of decline. It’s in everyone’s best interest to keep that pulse strong and healthy.
    3) Showcases the brand…whether it’s the brand of “you” or the brand of your firm, advertising your brand is a good thing. In fact, in times, when others may be pulling back on that advertising expenditure, you gain increased share-of-voice just by being there. As in most things, small differences in perception can have profound impacts on decision making. One year, after my firm decided to forego a booth at a national trade show, I recall hearing from a prospect that they hadn’t contacted us because “I didn’t see you at …. And thought you had gone out of business”. Don’t let it happen to you or your organization. Out of sight is definitely out of the consideration set.

    Thanks for the opportunity to sound off a bit.

  2. Zain,

    I’m glad I had the chance to meet you at RAC2009. I was one of the more opinionated people at our lunch roundtable discussion of Millennials. I hope to see you back in Chicago!


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