Me too. How many conventions, expos, or conferences does your company (or you) go to each year? My company did conventions full time for about 5 years, so I can tell you there are a ton of them out there.
Some better than others, but we stopped vending at conventions about 2-3 years ago now and I haven’t been back to a convention since, so it is about time.
The First Annual BlogWorld Expo
After seeing all the news stories and article posts about the BlogWorld Expo, this is one convention I wish I had attended, and I will certainly put it on the schedule for next year. It was covered by several live national news agencies and had about 2,000 attendees for the first annual expo.
Blogging is Not Dead
Anyone who thinks blogs are dead and going nowhere should take a look at what is going on in Las Vegas this week. Besides the news coverage, just take a look at these statistics (yes bloggers love stats) or even the keynote speakers and that should tell you something. At first glance you may not recognize some of the names if you are not a blogger because you don’t see them on national TV every day, but each one is the top in their respective fields.
Blogging is quite alive and well, but with changing dynamics all the time. Blogging might not be the same as it was 5 years ago, but as it develops, the blogs are finding a key place in the “new media” landscape.
What Big Players Were NOT There
Something else to look at is the exhibitors and the sponsors. What is interesting about the sponsors list is who is not there. You can’t say there were not big players sponsoring this even.
Just look at the list, Yahoo!, AOL, Technorati, and Southwest Airlines are among the list, not small companies at all. Who wasn’t there? How about Google and Microsoft (or MSN), although Zune was a sponsor so I guess you could say MS was there. I will say, out of those two, Microsoft did at least have an exhibitors booth at the show, but as far as I can tell Google was absent. Both of these companies have a large role in the blogging world and I expect when the show rolls around next year they will have a larger presence?
The list of who was there is impressive, and it would have been a great treat to be able to meet face to face with some of these companies many of us use on a daily basis. Come on Google really? It is right down the road and blogger.com was a key player in the early blog world. It would be nice to see them on the list when it comes around next year?
Conventions are a Learning Experience
If you have never been to a convention you should certainly try to go if you have a chance. They can be a great learning experience and is not always the “fun and games” that employers think. There actual is real business that takes place on these floors. Ideas are thrown about and new inventions are born.
Some keys to understanding these shows I learned after attending about 200-300 of them:
- It is not a vacation. Most are hard work and can be fun at the same time
- Make the most of the time you have, they go by FAST, before you know it, the show is over
- Meet companies you don’t know anything about. You might find a great match for your company.
- Keep to a schedule, especially if you are going to a seminar or class
- Wear comfortable shoes for walking
- Come prepared with your own business information as well
Improve Productivity and Creativity
Taking the time, effort, and money to actually go to a convention or conference can indeed be beneficial to you and your company. Many of us get some sort of burn-out being in the same environment day after day without change, even for those of us who work for ourselves.
Getting out of the office for a few days on business can get those creative juices flowing again and will often spark new ideas that you can bring back to the office. There have been many studies to show that taking a vacation will increase productivity for a whole host of reasons.
While a conference is definitely not a vacation it can have similar effects on productivity just from a change in environment.
Try to Make it to a Few Choice Picks
It is almost impossible to go to more than a hand full of these events in a year unless you are actually working at the convention as we were, so find a few different expos that catch your attention and make plans to attend. Some of these will probably end up being canceled because of your schedule or other circumstances, so pick a few to attend so when one gets canceled that isn’t it for the year.
Look at the Details of the Conference
Check out the exhibitors and sponsors list to see who is going to be in attendance. Are they businesses you deal with on a daily basis in your company? Are they prospective companies you would like to work with some day?
Just looking at these two lists will give you a good idea of what type of conference or convention you are evaluating. You will also want to look at the guest speakers and keynote speakers. Much of what is learned at a conference takes place in the seminars they offer and you will want to know as much about the seminars as possible so you can judge whether it will be worth it to attend.
Some other points to consider when looking at a conference you might want to attend.
- Look at the time of year these are going to take place.
- Is it around a holiday where flights and hotel rooms will be more expensive?
- Does it conflict with something already on your schedule
- How far away is the convention
- How long will it take to get there
- How much will it cost (some are VERY expensive)
- Is this time off, vacation time, my own time, paid, not paid etc
- What is the cost for taking more people, is there a discount
- Is there a signup deadline, and do they limit the number of attendees
- Is this conference by invitation only, and if so, how do you get invited
What Conventions are Coming Up
There are always some great conventions coming up. Three of note that I am aware of right off the top of my head, all in Las Vegas of course, are PubCon, CES, and Affiliate Summit, but each industry usually has its own annual convention and conference. eBay has a a few like the eBay Developers Conference and of course eBay Live! is held in a different city each year.
In addition to the big name conferences held each year you can also find some great value in some of the smaller events held by the sponsors or exhibitors of these large expos. For example, PESA (the Professional eBay Sellers Alliance) is an organization for eCommerce sellers on eBay and they also hold their own summit each year which is very informative.
What conferences are coming up that you would like to attend? Does your company hold their own conference or attend a specific one each year?