The value of attending conferences outweighs the costs

We’re well into conference season, just last week I returned from my third conference in a month. I’ve been sparked to write this after attending three and being questioned by my sister-in-law about why I enjoy going to conferences and why I would present at them. So here is a short piece on why I think conferences are incredibly valuable and my top tips to get the most out of them.

Conferences are wide and varied in their aims, size, quality and value, and so it’s important to consider what you want out of the experience before purchasing a ticket. To give you a little context the three conferences I’ve been to this month were:

Codeweavers Get Focused

This was a small conference organised and hosted by Codewavers specifically for their customers. For me as a representative of Codeweavers and presenter, it provided a valuable insight into the automotive industry and the direction it is taking, along with a good opportunity to meet our clients outside a formal setting. I would recommend speaking or attending this to any of our clients, it’s a lovely event with honest and relevant insights shared (even if I do say so myself).

CDX (Car Dealer Magazine Automotive Expo)

A conference and expo dedicated to the UK retail motor industry. At this event I was representing Codeweavers at our stand, as well as presenting a talk on Data Insights with a colleague. It was a good event to make new contacts in the industry and was valuable for our sales team with regards to networking and leads.

Women of Silicon Roundabout

This is a sizable tech conference with a focus on diversity and inclusion, a lot of big tech companies, and thousands of attendees visit this event each year. This event and ones like it in our industry are incredibly valuable to tech professionals. I would recommend this event to anyone in tech but in particular ladies as it’s wonderfully empowering to see just how many women are actually in tech! It’s also brilliant for anyone with an interest in improving diversity of any kind at there organisation, particularly HR and recruitment practises. I wrote a blog last year in fact, if your interested in more about this event in particular.

The three events I’ve attended are varied in size, intent, and audience, as well as cost to attend and value to you. All were worth attending for me personally, and I got a lot out of presenting at the first two, which lead to numerous conversations on topics that really interest me. Conferences are not a substitute for training if you want to learn a particular skill, but they are very valuable experience in there own right, a considerable catalyst for ideas, and great for professional network expansion for you and your business. A good conference can and should teach you something new, and empower you to push yourself/your company.

Top Tips

  1. First and foremost ensure there is a relevance for you personally / professionally or your company before agreeing to attend or present. Conferences take you away from your day to day at work and usually at least one overnight, so they need to be worth your time. There are a lot of conferences in any industry so if you know someone who’s been, ask their thoughts. A recommendation can help to weed out the conferences that are of a poorer quality or less relevant, either in terms of speakers or attendees.

  2. Plan ahead: This is particularly important if you are speaking. I won’t go into speaking further as that could be a blog post in it’s own right! But know your timeslot, your content, and any technical constraints you might face if you’re demonstrating software.

  3. Plan your agenda, to start this ask yourself the following:
    - Do you need to prebook workshops or is it ran on a first come basis? If it’s first served be there early for your key topics, if you need to book, check if there is an app to do so?
    - Are there any company's speakers on the agenda you want to meet/hear from?
    - What topics do you want to hear more about?

  4. Leave time in your schedule to visit stands and network!
    I can’t stress enough the value of talking to the other attendees, sponsors and speakers relevant to you and your company. These are valuable for information, and they are potential clients, colleagues or mentors you are speaking to.

  5. Pack light:
    Conferences usually have loads of information and freebies for attendees to take away; industry magazines, company information packs, pens, notebooks and it seems socks are becoming popular at conferences now! Some of the info packs can be great to compare to your current company offerings and see where you can improve your market offering, recruitment practises etc.

So in conclusion, it’s been a busy month! I’ve caught up with some of our clients I otherwise wouldn’t have seen this month, met some great new people, learnt new things about the automotive industry, furthered my personal development and got some great exposure presenting. Attending these kind of events are not only great for sales and networking, they are great for keeping up to date with the latest trends in your industry and technology which continues to moves rapidly. So take the opportunity if it’s offered, and ask for the opportunity to attend the right conference for you and your business if it’s not!

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