Fifteen years ago, conferences were a place to do two things: meeting new people and get information that you could really only get at the conference. Today, almost all of the information can be gotten elsewhere, the only benefit is being able to get to know people – to reconnect in person with people you haven’t seen for a while, to meet with companies that have people spread out, and to continue to build friendships with those you know. Many don’t prioritize the importance of these relationships.
I was at the Design Automation Conference today and the hallways were cluttered with people sitting on their laptops – working, as though the hallway of a conference is the best place to get some work done. Perhaps looking busy earns you points with some of the people you need to know.
In a world where things are increasingly spread out, building relationships is only getting more important. The opportunities for doing so outside of your normal day job though, is shrinking, which is one of the reasons conferences can be so valuable. Not earth-shattering, but interesting.