It’s a known fact that conferences can be expensive. Not only do you have the cost of registration and travel, but also the expense of time away from your work, family and social life at home.
If you are traveling to another city for a major multi-day conference you can easily expect to spend several thousand dollars in travel costs and miss at least a week of your normal life. As great of a time as it might be, it can be hard to justify the expense when you consider an actual vacation can cost less and be far more relaxing.
Because of this, many bloggers choose to stick to their online socialization. However, as great as email, IM, comments and other forms of communication are, they are no substitute for meeting someone face-to-face
So if you tend to pass on conferences because they are too expensive (in one regard or another) or simply not valuable enough, here’s five reasons you may wish to reconsider that and maybe give going to one a (second) try.
Though you can do some great networking online, it can’t compete what you can do face-to-face. The ability to look someone in the eye, shake hands, have a natural conversation without the barriers of technology and enjoy a meal together are just some of the things you can’t do on the Web.
Physical networking is more “real” and memorable than virtual networking and the people you meet face-to-face are much more likely to remember you than those you’ve exchanged a few emails with. There are people I’ve met once at a conference I’ll never forget but people I talk to semi-regularly online I can barely recall.
In short, physical interaction just brings you closer to other people and lets you build stronger connections that you can take into the virtual world.
If you need any tips on how to network better at a conference, take a look at Ben Spark’s excellent post filled with such tips.
2. Information and Education
Conferences are not just about meeting new people and heavy drinking. Contrary to popular belief, conferences have sessions where people teach things they know and give others the chance to ask questions.
Attending sessions at relevant conferences is a great chance to expand your knowledge into new areas or simply get a brush up on what you should already know. It’s also a great chance to get a grasp on a new technology or idea that you haven’t had the chance to try out yet and get yourself on the cutting edge of your field.
3. Ending Isolation
Blogging, by in large, is a very solitary activity, usually done by one person alone in their home or office blogging on subjects they feel passionate about. Conference are a chance to break that isolation, see that there are other people out there who do they same thing you do, put faces to names and make human connections.
More than just networking, conferences are a reminder that you aren’t isolated that the Web is “real” and that the things we do online do have an impact in the physical world and that you are part of a community, whether you realize it or not.
Basically, if you’re experiencing a case of blogger blues, a conference may be just what you need.
4. Get New Ideas
If you feel like you’re running low on ideas for your site, a conference may be just the thing that you need. Talking with other people, getting new perspectives and seeing what outsiders have to say about your niche can give you a lot of great things to talk to on your site and may even enable you to choose topics that let you reach out to new audiences.
A conference can lead you to new paths to follow and that can make blogging exciting again, both for you and your readers.
5. They Don’t Have to Be Expensive
As true as it is that many of the bigger blog conferences can be very costly, in every sense of the word, there are many, smaller ones that probably won’t be. If you seek out smaller events closer to home, you’ll save on travel, time away and, in most cases, registration.
By staying more local, you can not only cut the cost of the event, but also meet people in your area that you may be able to form a local network with and see on a regular basis. This can help turn blogging friendships into new real-life friendships that can help you in an infinite number of ways down the road.
To be clear, conferences aren’t a magic place and I don’t think bloggers should spend more time mingling and networking than they do producing good content. But that doesn’t change the fact that going to conferences regularly is not just a great chance to have some fun, but will also help make you a better blogger and help you keep your enthusiasm about your site alive.
In the end, if you’ve been shying away from conferences, it might be time to give them a shot and, if you’ve been before and didn’t enjoy it, it’s likely time to try another event.
There are just too many ways conferences can help you be a better blogger to ignore them outright and you owe it to yourself, and your readers, to see if you can take advantage of what they have to offer.