Are IT conferences worth the money?

I’ve been asked this question many times before, even recently in regard to the Code Europe conference, that I’ve recently attended.

People are confused, they don’t see how one could learn anything in such a short time period, especially given the number of topics covered usually during one day.

Wouldn’t it be better to spend the money for a training? No. Yes. It depends 🙂

If you feel like you’re in need of a training in some specific area, due to the assignment to a project or simply feeling you’re weak at something you should be better at, then you should think about the training. The only reason why could it impact the decision about going to a conference is that you cannot afford to choose both options (costs/time).

In such precise case, I would probably pick the training option instead of a conference. But if you can afford both options, or you don’t really need this training “for living”, then the conference has a very strong position in such comparison.

Why? Here are few examples of the takeaways from the conferences.

Loads of bits and bobs from IT pro speakers

Even if the topic of the presentation is not that interesting for you, what I really love in conferences is that you have a unique opportunity to see how those guys work. What kind of tools are they using, libraries, websites, even some tricky stuff like keyboard shortcuts.

This is a really interesting thing – everybody has his own tricks to work faster. Everybody has different context at work, so even if you’re using the same technology, or language, they have their own experiences and choices made throughout their career. Sometimes this is the only thing I get from the presentation and it helps me a lot during my daily work.

Networking

This is really cool. You’re spending one day at the conference but have an opportunity to meet many people from the IT world in one place. There’s no better way to get to know what topics are trending these days. Those might be short, few minute talks that may inspire you, but also let you inspire others. You build your network of contacts and personally, you’re kind of making your brand as people get to know you.

Having an opportunity to talk to people like Jon Skeet, Ted Neward, Scott Hanselman or any other popular guys really makes it worth to go to such conference.

Besides, it’s just really cool to meet some peeps and talk.

Technology awareness

It feels like a very obvious thing, yet so much underestimated by many people. Let me state that explicitly.

You don’t have to be an expert on the topic to benefit from it.

This is where the power of conferences really comes in.

At work, you’re usually focused on some limited set of technologies that you use on the daily basis. But when you go to the conference, you will find people presenting either some very deep details of the widely-known technologies or something totally new, like some emerging frameworks, libraries. You never know when you will use such knowledge. Maybe tomorrow, maybe in few months. When analyzing some potential solutions to a problem, when everybody will try to find a solution by reinventing the wheel, you will know that there is a very good framework that solves this problem. Moreover, you might even remember some useful tips that will make you prepare the proof of concept easily. That might save you and your team hours of work.

If you then take into account that on some conferences that last for 3 days you attend like 20 presentations, it may really give you some good view on different topics and potential solutions.

Motivation

That might not be so obvious at first, but it’s really simple. Both speakers and attendees, in most cases (there are surely exceptions to this rule), are really passionate about what they do.

This makes their presentations and discussions with them really energizing. It’s highly addictive and doesn’t change between the conferences. That’s also what builds the power of networking during such conferences.

It also gives you a view on the fact that you’re not the only person that is chasing his dreams. That there are other people that work hard and you could see it brings results. It motivates and empowers you to work harder, and go farther. And it lasts very long after the conference is over.

Wrap up

I hope you share my thoughts about the benefits of conferences. There’s also a very important point here, that any kind of meetups are also a very similar experience. Just that meetups are very short, so compared to conferences they are a bit different.

When you go a conference, you’re like on holidays with knowledge and passion flowing all around you. The longer it is, the more it detaches you from the daily problems you have on a regular basis.

Meetups, on the other hand, are a very short experience, so it’s not that funny, besides it’s much harder to have famous speakers on it. On the other side, meetups are mostly free so everybody can afford it.

And what are your thoughts on the topic? Would you recommend conferences to others? Why? Why not? Sound off in the comments, please.

Advent of Blog

This is my seventeenth post in the series of Advent of Blog 2017. I will be publishing one post per day as I mentioned in the first post of the series.

Stay tuned.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *