By The Staiger Consulting Group
Why do people attend conferences? While there are no definitive answers to this question, you might be surprised to learn the number one reason people attend conferences is to network with others. We have monitored this over time, following the social and educational benefits which conferences bring to attendees, speakers, and sponsors. Of course, participant agendas can be completely different in this respect and no two events are the same, since all of the key dynamics change from year to year, but there are consistent elements.
Here are the main reasons people attend conferences:
1. To network with others
A big reason for going to conferences is to meet with likeminded people and industry peers. Conferences bring together people from many different areas who share a common discipline or field, and they are a great way to meet new people in your field. At a conference, you will be able to get together with people from a wide range of backgrounds, people you may not encounter through your workplace. As you build your professional network, conferences can become a good place for meeting other individuals in your field that you haven’t connected with in a while.
2. To expand your knowledge and find solutions to problems
You will hear about things in your field that will be new to you. These could be new techniques, new types of equipment, emerging data, or new information from aviation thought-leaders. You will get insight into the research of some of the biggest names in your field, in addition to some of the newest faces. Conferences give you the opportunity to talk to these people one-on-one about what they are working on, and they may even give you advice on how to enhance your own work. You have the opportunity to ask presenters questions about their work and the rationale behind it, which you can’t do when reading articles.
3. To present your ideas and work to others
This is one of the more obvious reasons for attending conferences: to talk about your work. It’s good practice to visit about what you do with a variety of people from similar or completely different fields. You might even consider presenting a more formal program. It will make you more confident about the work you do, and provide you with new perspectives about your work, as people may ask questions that make you think about your project differently. At a conference, you have the opportunity to receive feedback on your work from people who have never seen it and may provide new insights.
4. For people to meet you
It may not seem like an important thing, but conferences are also a good way for people to meet you. Regardless if you are the CEO of a larger company, a second year grad student, or presenting for the first time, you may meet someone at lunch or in the exhibit hall and you can make a connection that could dramatically impact your professional career or your business. This is especially important when you are looking for collaborators, jobs ideas, or even committee members. Conferences are a great way to get your name and your work out there as you begin to establish yourself in your field.
5. Learn beyond your field or interest
This is a bonus benefit of attending conferences. You may learn things outside your field, and conference attendance may also have sessions for professional development. Chances are, when you go to a conference the attendees are united by a single broad topic like aviation, but other topics will apply to sub-fields of expertise which could help you.
And of course, there are added benefits to attending conferences such as simply getting out of the office for a few days, using the time to enjoy the city, or gaining continuing education credits.
So why attend conferences? We each have our own reasons for attending, but conferences can dramatically enhance both your professional and personal development, as well as provide you with tools and skills which cannot be taught in-house or online. The focused nature of learning at a conference allows you to get a deeper understanding of your topic of interest.
Register now and experience all the benefits of attending the Upper Midwest Aviation Symposium (UMAS) this March in Minot, ND!