By Guest contributor Chris Garrett
With all the buzz and hype around social media, you might wonder why someone would go to a physical rather than virtual conference. What are the advantages of a conference over staying at home?
As someone who is an advocate of all things digital, and also someone who has been involved in his own fair share of webinars, teleconferences and online summits, it might seem strange that I am coming to you singing the praises of meeting in “meatspace”.
Yes, software is coming on leaps and bounds, there are actual usable video conferencing tools that anyone can use like Skype, there are Webinars that allow hundreds of participants, and even three dimensional virtual reality environments, but in fact there are some things that online can not yet offer.
I have mentioned before how even geeks like me prefer to meet in real life given the chance over at the Cogniview blog, but I should explain now my thoughts in detail.
Five Reasons I Go to Live Conferences
- Authority – If you know anything about me then you might know that one of my “things” is Authority, that is, using blogs to gather an audience that knows, likes and trusts you. Speaking at conferences and meeting people in the flesh is a great way to build this authority without attempting to convince people that you are an expert. By being seen and networking at these gatherings you build a personal brand, especially if you give a talk.
- Human connection – Meeting in person builds and deepens relationships much faster than online. Many people say the good stuff at conferences happens in the halls, and this is true very often. Connections I made in the early 2000’s are still surprisingly paying off today. At the time I thought I had done myself a disservice and that I had wasted an opportunity not being more forward, being as I am a complete introvert. In fact I must have made a small impression as opportunities came out of that nobody would have predicted. It’s not just me either, one of the fellow shy friends I already kind of knew but really enjoyed talking to in a quiet corner is now super successful in the SEO space. Don’t get me wrong, online offers cool things – after all I have still yet to meet in person my friend and Problogger book co-author but putting faces and voices to names makes you and the people you meet much more memorable and you feel a much stronger bond.
- Knowledge and ideas – When you immerse yourself in learning your mind seems to open up and absorb much more. Your ideas are sparked in a way that I just haven’t found from books and the web. Each person you talk to is a potential mine of new facts, thoughts and ideas. Choose the sessions you attend well and you can come away with a ton of new business boosting action items.
- Experience – One of the things I love about my “job” is attending conferences. They really are like a working holiday for me. Yeah, I complain about travel, getting up early, and did I mention how shy I am? But I always come back buzzing and loving the experience of meeting new people in new places, and catching up with friends who I rarely get to see. Blogworld is going to be crammed with people who I want to connect with in a city I have never been to before. And my business is paying! How cool is that?
- Escape – Following from the previous thought, sometimes it is good for our brains and our health to get away from the desk and expand our horizons. I love my family to bits, and I try to bring them along whenever I can, but even when I can’t I think it is good for me to go and do things outside of my comfort zone, to get away from the daily stresses, and to dedicate my mind to something other than my ever-growing to-do list!
What do you think? Why do you (or not) go to live events and conferences? Please let me know in the comments …