There is a plethora of conferences offered in North America on a variety of different subjects.
Considering my role in the company, I’ve had the opportunity to go to several conferences. Over the years, I’ve had the chance to attend the best and worst of them, sometimes even at the same event. These experiences have led me to develop certain reflexes when I assess the relevance of attending a conference. I’d like to share this reasoning process with you in the hopes that you’ll find them useful.
First off, you need to clarify the objective you’re aiming for by participating in a conference. There are generally two reasons why a person takes part in a conference:
1- To find out more about a given subject and to expand your knowledge.
2- To network
Given this, many might say that networking is a good reason to attend conferences. It’s true that it is possible to meet new people, but let’s be honest; networking is often not reason enough to attend a conference. Unless you have a product to sell AND a booth. And yet… here’s some advice: be sure to calculate the cost of acquiring a prospect after the event and don’t let yourself get caught up in the so-called “good reputation” that comes with participating in an event.
So, how can you choose?
Criteria 1- Personally, my number-one criteria is the organizer of the conference, because I always ask myself the following question:
What do the organizers want to get out of the event?
Many of you know about the large conferences, Gartner, SAP, Salesforce, C2Montréal, etc. They are organized by prestigious companies that are able to attract world-famous speakers. By doing so, in addition to promoting their products/services, they are able with much credibility to present the main trends in their industries. This is how they succeed.
However, I’m wary whenever they are companies specializing in organizing conferences. This is even truer if a conference is held abroad. It’s more difficult to validate the “depth” of speakers.
Criteria 2- How many editions have there been in the past?
Attending the first edition of a conference is a bit risky. You can expect certain logistical problems and it’s not always possible to get feedback about previous editions.
Criteria 3 – Who are the attendees?
This is an important element, and is often the result of the first criteria. If the organization is not “prestigious”, it’s highly likely that the conference-goers won’t be either.
Finally, remember the old adage, “You get what you pay for”. So watch out for free or very inexpensive conferences. Beyond the price of the ticket, you’ll need to consider the time investment as well.