Saturday, June 29, 2013

Why go to conferences

KScope13 has just wrapped up, and it's been a really enjoyable conference. I've learnt a lot, caught up with some friends, and had lots of fun also.

I thought I'd share some of the reasons I go to conferences.

  1. To learn something new
    I always try to find at least one or two things that will justify the time/expense of attending a conference to my employer. If you bring back something that solves an issue you have in your business, or a new approach which improves the way you work, or solves a performance bottleneck, then you've justified the trip to your manager. So hopefully next year, you'll get to go again.
  2. To validate the way you work
    Often due to the specialized nature of your work, even in large organizations, there may only be a few people in your organization doing what you do. So even when your part of a large IT team, there's really very few people you can bounce ideas off, or discuss in depth the approach your taking to solve a business problem.
    It's really nice to be able to talk to like minded people, or hear from the experts that the issues and challenges you face, are the same ones they face. And perhaps more importantly, the approach you've taken to solve those issues is both sensible, and similar to what other people are also doing.
  3. To network with others in person
    These days with online forums we're often communicating with people from all around the world. It's really nice to meet them face to face. I've been fortunate to have met several members of the Oracle team, as well quite a few high profile presenters in person. It constantly amazes me how much personality comes across in emails and forum posts, and when you finally meet them, you feel like you already know them.
    Sharing a meal and a few drinks (sometimes quite a few) at conference events really builds those relationships. That can really help when you hit a roadblock, and need to ask for help; it's also nice when you can pay that forward by helping someone else out also.
  4. To raise your profile
    In these uncertain times you never quite know what the future is going to hold for you. So getting your name known in the Oracle community may have longer term benefits; it may open new opportunities for you.
  5. To give something back
    I've been volunteering and presenting at conferences for over 10 years now; it's my way of giving something back to the Oracle community, sharing my knowledge and helping in a small way to make sure the Oracle community is a strong and vibrant community.
So that's some of the my reasons why I go to conferences, please feel free to comment and add your reasons.