When attending a conference do not underestimate the power of the human element. There is sometimes a feeling that it is "un-cool" to admit to wanting to network while attending an event, but this is where you find the value at live conferences, trade shows, conventions, and seminars.
When I speak at an event I often am making a case for connecting with people in a social media crazy world. This is not to undermine the power of digital and mobile tools, but to make sure we do not forget to look others in the eye.
If the purpose of a meeting was only to gain information then we would not need to convene. While I love experiencing the presentation of a GREAT speaker, those are rare in our day of everyone being an expert (regardless of their ability to speak). Too few speakers have the ability inspire an audience to learn from their talk.
Reading a white paper or watching a recorded video on your computer could transmit the data (if learning was the only purpose), but sharing all aspects of a conference with peers is how we find value in meetings. The serendipity of "hallway conversations" can hardly be duplicated in an online chat box, and is often where people get their deepest learning moments.
While attending the luncheon at a conference recently I had a debate about the power of face-to-face meetings and networking with a guy who was convinced that the day of the meeting was behind us. He was opinionated, but very well informed. He was at the event himself, but seemed torn by why others would attend.
Our conversation was a respectful discussion, although we disagreed. Over the next few days we hung around together often and became friends. One night in the bar he was telling me how he got his current job (a great one, I might add). Turns out he met his boss at a conference similar to the one we were attending. I inquired if it was really a "live meeting" that lead to his dream job?
He smiled and said, "I guess meetings are a thing of the past, except for those who want opportunity".
What a great line:
Meetings are a thing of the past, except for those who want opportunity.
When you attend you next live event, do not pretend that people do not matter. Nothing matters more. Take the time to meet people and get to know them. You never know what can happen with the right connection. However, if you do not connect then you can be fairly certain that there will be nothing.
Remember: All opportunities come from people!
Have A Great Day
Thom Singer is known as "The Conference Catalyst". He works with meeting planners and conference organizers to set the tone for a meeting. His presentations educate, inspire and motivate attendees to engage deeper in the event and make meaningful connections. http://www.conferencecatalyst.com