By Todd Murphy | October 21st, 2010
To balance my prior posting (Top 3 Reasons To Attend Conferences #NewTools), and an important point on its own, I believe one should not make a career of attending conferences. Over the last three years we have observed the emergence of those who are on a quest to be the most well educated person working in the new media/social media space. This effort is great when balanced with effort and output. But, when one simply makes a career out of attending meetings and conferences without pausing to create and further the initiatives of their company or client, it is largely wasted time and money. Agency and corporate communications personnel are equally susceptible to this problem.
We’ll call these offenders “perpetual attendees”. You’ve seen them. They have been to all the hot meetings, have collected the free swag on their desks, and are able to rattle off names like Shankman, Scoble, Vaynerchuk, and Evan Williams like they are close friends.
The aforementioned guys are very likeable, knowledgeable, and have brought much to our evolving media landscape. But the relationships most have with them are no different than my friendship with Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway…The Oracle of Omaha. I’ve seen him several times, been at arms length to Mr. Buffett, but we don’t “know” each other. Am I better for seeing and hearing him talk on finance and investing, for sure. But I don’t see him speak every time he’s available. I gather nuggets of wisdom from Mr. Buffett, and then apply them to my business and personal efforts. Similarly, industry conferences and learning opportunities work to impart nuggets of information I can apply to helping my clients or colleagues.
So, when deciding if I should attend a conference, for me it comes down to common sense (#SameRules). Will I learn something new or be inspired in a way that will benefit news monitoring and media analysis service, my clients, or my work/life balance? Can I improve our press clipping or web monitoring service? Am I free for the dates of the conference without any other true obligations? If the answer is “No” to either of these questions, then I will skip the conference and catch a different one. Basically, am I going to learn something new AND use what I learn? If not, skip it. That’s the good thing about conferences; there are so many opportunities if you just look. See the links on my prior post for some good sources of meetings.
Leave your comments about your number one reason for skipping a conference. All theory and no application does nothing for your company or clients. If you’re not adding value in your position, there’s somebody out there who will.