In today’s internet-obsessed world, there are more ways than ever to learn about anything under the sun and sharpen your skills in a way that can help advance your career. Podcasts, YouTube videos, blogs, websites, and webinars can all offer all the extra training and motivation you need. With all this help available any time of day or night and from the comfort of home while you’re in your favorite PJs, who needs to attend live conferences anymore, right? I mean, is it really necessary to get dressed, travel across town (or even farther away), and spend a couple of days wishing you were someplace else? Well, maybe it isn’t necessary, but it can still be beneficial. See below for a few reasons that attending, or sending your employees to, real-world, in-person workshops, seminars, and conferences is still a good idea.
Get inspired and refreshed
It may seem that the best way to be the best at what you do is to keep doing it day after day after day. While it’s true that practice makes perfect, we sometimes get so caught up in our way of doing things that we miss opportunities to grow through learning. Conferences can be a great way to really interact with others who do what you do, but may do it in slightly different ways. You and your peers can often put your heads together and come up with even better ways to keep doing what you do in an even more efficient or productive manner.
At such industry events, you’re also likely to meet folks as excited as you used to be about your profession. We all tend to lose a little bit of our passion over time. Meeting someone whose fire is still burning brightly can spark your own. Likewise, you could meet somebody who ends up being inspired by you.
Many seminars and similar events offer off-topic sessions, which can be a great chance to give your brain a break from its everyday grind. You might find workshops on improving memory, boosting workplace morale, or relaxation and stress-relieving techniques, all of which can be great additions to your existing arsenal.
Most conferences offer open-discussion sessions. These are an opportunity for you and others in your position to have open, off-the-cuff discussions that aren’t guided or scripted. Sessions like this can be an unexpected way for one or more of you to come up with solutions to problems you didn’t even know you had.
See and be seen
Networking continues to be critical to many professions. Meeting peers in person is still the best way to get your name “out there.” Networking shouldn’t be seen as necessary only for those looking to change jobs. The more people you have on your list of contacts, the more sources you have available when you run into a new problem or challenge, have an idea of your own to share, or maybe are looking for new employees. It’s also always good to have contemporaries with whom you can share info about vendors and other providers, too.
In addition to others in your position, conferences can be a great way to meet industry leaders and innovators face to face. Being able to put faces to the names you’ve seen in the literature can be inspiring because meeting these folks reminds you that your industry’s giants are real people, just like you. If they did it, why can’t you?
Have some fun
Most conference organizers make it a point to build in some fun activities for attendees. Taking advantage of such events (like cocktail parties, excursions to nearby attractions, etc.) is a great opportunity to relax a bit. We all need to unwind sometimes. Being able to socialize with contemporaries and peers can be another way to forge relationships that could go beyond work.
In a nutshell, take advantage of all of the web-based opportunities for growth, but don’t pass up the chance to enrich yourself with good old-fashioned face-to-face meetings, too–especially if somebody else is willing to pay for it!