Expand your Horizons: Change How you Think about Conferences

It’s the start of a new year and time to start planning out your schedule and goals for the year. Going to a conference could well be one of them, so here are a few tips to help you choose a good one.

1. Think about a new field.

As an software tester, there are plenty of great testing conferences where I could meet up with people I know and put a face to people I know online. I could learn things to use on my return and swap stories with others working in the same field.

But I could also learn a lot from attending conferences that aren’t specifically related to testing. A design or UX conference is likely to give me plenty of new ideas and thinking–and I could also act as an ambassador for testing to help designers see the kind of thinking that a tester can bring to the table.

2. Think about presenting.

This can seem scary if you’ve not done it before, but I would highly recommend it. If you’re not sure about presenting, read my previous post with three benefits for speaking. Once you’ve read that and decided to do it, here are three tips for a new speaker.

3. Think local.

Going off to an exotic location for a conference can be an extra bonus–but look around in your backyard as well. Going to a local conference can mean less travel stress and increase the likelihood that any contacts and/or friends you make are ones that you can see regularly.

4. Think small.

If all these tips haven’t convinced you to go to a conference, here’s one more idea for you to consider:  Find a local user group or Meetup to attend. These will usually be small, intimate gatherings, so they’re really useful for getting to meet people and talk about things that interest you in great detail.

If you’re shy and/or an introvert and going to a conference is making you nervous, here are three tips to help.

Finally, when you return from your conference, full of new ideas, enthusiasm, and a list of new contacts and friends, here are four tips to help deal with the overload.