What is your primary motivation for attending physical conferences? We used to go to get new research and learn something new, but for the last three years, we got most of the information virtually. For me, it's networking with other people. What about you?

4.5k views31 Upvotes67 Comments

CTO in Software, 51 - 200 employees
I like to have hallway discussions and learn about people's perspectives. What you learn and get exposed to in a physical conference is comparable to 3 months of learning it from inside your inner circle attending professional conferences helps me to stay current.

Networking is another significant benefit of conferences. It is great to meet people who you only know virtually in real life. Meeting customers is an excellent opportunity since they will likely attend the same events as you. One piece of advice is to be approachable and approach people. Be genuine in your feedback and try to help.
5 1 Reply
Principle Consultant in IT Services, Self-employed

I agree with you. The meeting after the meeting is lost on the constant virtual meetings.

Director in Manufacturing, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
Working for a global company where the workforce was very distributed, conferences were networking events not only for external contacts but also for internal ones. I attended many Gartner conferences and I probably met as many new external contacts as new internal ones. If our business was thriving we might send as many as 20 people to a conference. Lean years could be zero though
4 1 Reply
Director in Manufacturing, 1,001 - 5,000 employees

And while there the internal networking really fired up the creative ideas across different teams. Key is to ensure everyone knows who is going before getting there so you can plan some sessions together to discuss over dinner or breakfast

CTO in Finance (non-banking), 501 - 1,000 employees
As a CTO, my primary motivation for attending physical conferences is to network with other professionals in my industry. Meeting and connecting with colleagues, peers, and potential collaborators face-to-face can lead to new opportunities and partnerships that may not be possible through virtual means. Additionally, physical conferences offer the chance to learn about the latest research and developments in my field and to showcase my company's own work. Overall, attending physical conferences is a valuable way to stay current on industry trends and to build valuable relationships with other professionals.
CIO in Services (non-Government), 201 - 500 employees
It really helps to be in-person to get multiple peer-level viewpoints in a short period of time.  I find that in-person talks tend to be far more dynamic, especially when more that 2 people are part of the discussion.  I also like it as a networking event, and I can talk to a broader set of people and use the whole experience as a kind of "sanity check" to make sure I'm not headed off into left field. 
Director of IT in Software, 201 - 500 employees
I like the ability to interact directly with vendors and hear the opinion of other attendees. You are also more focused as you are not in front of your PC/laptop, and people are not coming into your office or calling you. You kind of have dedicated time to see vendor presentations and interact with their engineers and learn about new technologies and features. 
Board Member in Healthcare and Biotech, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
Benchmarking and personal brand building !

Conversations in conferences are a great opportunity to benchmark what is happening in peer group industry as well as other industries. It also helps to build your personal brand - what you stand for and what you are willing to contribute. Over the years, this helped me in becoming a sought after speaker in most conferences.

Yes networking is also a big benefit, make new friends, hear other opinions, get insights into vendor offerings.
5 1 Reply
Legal Operations Counsel & Innovation Strategist in Services (non-Government), 10,001+ employees

Strongly agree - putting yourself out there at industry events and conferences is key to building your personal brand. It's how you get noticed and raises your visibility. 

Director of Engineering in Media, 10,001+ employees
Look at how your competition and peers are addressing some common pain points. Other than that, networking opportunities, brand building, and know how of new trends in industry
Chief Supply Chain Officer in Media, 11 - 50 employees
Meeting people, having interesting conversations, validating my thinking with like-minded professionals.
3 2 Replies
Community Manager (Supply Chain & Legal) in IT Services, 10,001+ employees

Agreed! There is nothing that compares to the value of face-to-face interactions.

Head of Growth | Selling More With AI, Self-employed

100%! Sparking new ideas and stumbling into unexpected opportunities makes in-person events an adventure.

Founder in Media, 2 - 10 employees
1. Networking 2. Learning 3. An excuse to mix it up and get out of the office, which provides an important moment to lift up from the day-to-day challenges, be a bit more strategic & tap into external perspective. *I used to go to events with selling in mind, but I realized the approach fell flat. It made me enjoy the events less and everybody else who is there to network and learn can smell the commission breath. 
Director of Design in Finance (non-banking), 10,001+ employees
I would likely prioritize the following:
1. Learning: An outside-in perspective is difficult to maintain without venturing out from time to time. Very difficult to get this done in a typical workday, given schedule and cognitive load.
2. Networking: External relationships, and even partnerships, can challenge us to be better. Sometimes, one might look around and think, "I've got this thing down," only to meet someone operating at a different level and be inspired to have a greater impact.
3. Team Building: I generally attend conferences with my team as an opportunity to grow as a team with a shared excitement around what is possible..

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