Here at Atomic Object, we get a great perk—we can go to a conference a year! Atomic takes care of attendance fees, lodging, and travel and compensates us for our time. Now that 2018 is here, it’s time to start making plans. We all have busy schedules and competing priorities. In a crowded conference marketplace, how do you determine the right conference to attend?
Here are some questions to ask yourself as you consider how to spend your conference time and money in 2018:
1. How do I want to change my professional mindset in 2018?
It’s easy to get comfortable in your processes and philosophies. Consider attending a conference where you’ll be challenged in how you think and how you work. There’s always room for growth, and sometimes you need to get out of your daily routine to be truly open to change.
2. How formal of a conference do I want to attend?
Are you more interested in a new conference structured around small group workshops or an established, formal presentation conference? A younger, more casual conference may give you the opportunity to be hands-on and enjoy one-on-one time with other folks in your industry. A big conference is a great experience to have at least once, but it can also be overwhelming, especially if big crowds aren’t your thing. You should choose an environment where you’ll thrive and have fun!
3. What are my goals for the conference? What kinds of things do I want more exposure to this year?
At Atomic, we don’t focus on any specific industry. We don’t own products; we build them on behalf of our clients. As a consultant, I am constantly getting up to speed on new markets and diverse user needs. I rarely focus on one industry at a time, and for this reason, I see value in attending a product-focused conference.
A conference with a product focus would give me a better sense of what my clients are thinking about and the decisions they’re facing. Look for opportunities to align your goals with the goals of your clients, and build skills to be a savvier, more thoughtful consultant.
4. Am I looking to meet potential clients, colleagues, vendors, collaborators, or mentors?
The answer should always be yes! If you can narrow in on the kind of people you’re most excited to meet, that’s even better. Think about reaching out to conference attendees, speakers, and sponsors in advance so that you can hit the ground running.
For example, if you think there’s a new project management tool out there that would make your job better, set a goal to talk to five people about the tools they love. Find productive and professional ways to discuss improvements you’re trying make in your role. Look for people who have spent more time in the problem space and have wisdom to share. There might be a beta product out there for you to test, or another software consultancy with a great blog discussing issues relevant to you.
There are tons of great opportunities to build your skills and and network at conferences. Be clear with yourself about your goals and vision for 2018 to ensure that your time is well spent! What conferences are you planning to attend this year?