Imagine a new business’s social networking site where industry experts share their knowledge with users, spurring intelligent questions and discussions. At the same time, users of the site can talk to anyone who is there about anything of interest without needing to build links and networks. To add more value, everyone on the site has the same relatively targeted interest, increasing the likelihood that each connection will be fruitful. Finally, the network presents new ideas that can help its users decouple from what they are doing, refreshing their ability to innovate.
Tools offering all of these benefits have been around for decades, predating the invention of the Internet. The low-tech industry conference does all of these things and more for people that get on a plane, hop in a car, or otherwise leave their workplace to connect with like-minded people.
Ultimately, the key benefit of a conference is that it offers a change of pace. The ability to be immersed in learning new information without the usual distractions of the workday enables a deeper level of concentration and thought. Instead of just picking up an idea and forgetting it while running to the next meeting, conference-goers have the luxury of chewing on them and planning ways to implement them for business advantage.
A conference also offers the opportunity to access new perspectives from other attendees. To get fresh insight from an unbiased source, all that an attendee needs to do is turn to his left or right and start a conversation. At the same time, every person there also gets chances to share his expertise, whether through casual conversation and networking or as a teacher or panel member.
Successful technology executives realize the value of traveling to conferences. Between the ability to get face-to-face contact with colleagues and the chance to think and innovate, the return on investment from these seeming low-tech events can equal or surpass any other activity.