Are Conventions and Conferences Old School?
As my conference and convention season gets underway, our latest Market Smart communique looks at the importance of these events. We discuss why we think it’s still a good idea to be an “in-person attendee” even though there are other alternatives. 

Alternatives to In-Person Conferences and Conventions

Virtual conferences are similar to in-person conferences, but occur online and may or may not include virtual networking. These type of conferences may be free or low-cost and eliminate the need for travel. We can’t possibly make it to every event, and with shrinking marketing budgets there may not be funds for employees to travel to conferences.

Webinars are popular. These web-based presentations or seminars are often presented live. They may offer interaction during the event if you can get through, but are also recorded and archived for later viewing.

Other alternatives include: unconferences, twitter chats, Ted Talks, university classes and special interest groups or forums. Though many of these alternatives serve a purpose, we prefer the real thing.
Different strokes for different folks.  Conferences provide professional information from many different viewpoints at VO-Con 2018.

Different strokes for different folks. Conferences provide professional information from many different viewpoints at VO-Con 2018. L-R Paul Mattimoe/Perspective Group; Georgi Bohrod/GBG &Associates; Peter Roth/ARDA; Jeff Weir/Redweek.
5 Reasons Why You Should Attend the Real Thing
1. Networking
Nothing beats face-to-face communication. Conferences and conventions give you the opportunity to actually see and talk with clients and fellow professionals that you’ve developed online relationships with. There’s something powerful about meeting your online contacts face to face, cementing those relationships, and having the opportunity to socialize. Long-term relationships, even friendships, are often developed from these encounters.

2. Gain Comprehensive Information of Industry Trends
Though you may be keeping track of your industry’s trends online, professional conferences often have the real deal---they bring the best speakers and industry experts to generate excitement about their latest projects and successes. It gives you the opportunity to talk with peers to find out how they are using these trends. Your company may benefit from the knowledge you take back to work.
3. Meet Vendors and Suppliers
Vendors and suppliers are at conferences to connect with clients and educate them on their latest products. Not only will you learn about their new products, they might even teach you new ideas on how to use the products you currently have.

4. Become an Industry Expert
Being active at industry conferences gives you the perfect opportunity to gain the knowledge and develop the expertise needed to become an industry expert. It can lead to opportunities to speak or write articles. Clients like to do businesses with people who are well-known and respected as experts in the industry.

5. Get Away From the Office and Have Fun
As the old saying goes, “all work and no play makes you a dull person.” Research shows time away from your daily work environment is good for you. Even though there is a certain amount of work involved in conferencing, they often include fun social events such as happy hours, sports competitions, local tours, and dinners with big-name entertainment. Socializing with your peers in a fun, relaxed situation is a great way to get to know them better. You may return to work with refreshed creativity and new best friends.