Should You Go to a Conference?

No matter what your hobbies or career choices, eventually you’ll be faced with going to a conference. Should you go or not?

The short answer is yes. You should go.

The longer answer begins with “it depends.”
Here are three things to consider when you’re decidig whether or not to go to a conference.

1. Budget

Unfortunately, conferences aren’t free. Some are more expensive than others and only you can decide if it’s worth the cost or not. If you’ve never been to that conference, it’s difficult. How can you know if a conference is worth the mone if you’ve never been? (Talk to others who have been, evaluate the speakers, etc.)

Aside from the conference fees, though, remember the travel expense and vendors. Many conferences have books or other merchanidse for sale. That needs to be considered when you decide on your budget.

2. Education

Depending on your profession. you have to have to have a certain level of continuing education credits. Because of that, you might be hesitant about going to another conference for something you don’t have to do. I understand that.

The thing is, if you don’t go to conferences that aren’t “required,” you’re behind on new advancements and upcoming trends by the time they hit the stores. That makes you scramble to try to keep up. Disclaimer: I am NOT suggesting you should chase trends. Keep with what you know and love, but be aware and ready to change or adapt if there’s something new coming up that you want to incorporate in what you do.

3. Connections

Conferences allow you to network and meet with like-minded people who work in similar areas as you. Yes, you can meet people in groups on Facebook and other social media platforms, but there’s something to be said for meeting people face-to-face in real life. The shared connection of the interest the conference caters to makes networking and meeting new people easier and less awkward.

The people you meet can become friends, mentors, coworkers, collaborators, and even fans of your work. They can help you promote your work and you can help promote theirs. It’s almost like having a built-in street team.

What else?

There are many more reasons to attend conferences. I couldn’t list everything here, so I thought I would focus on the top three. What did I miss that you think is an important consideration? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

3 Tips for Reading at an Open Mic

microphoneHave you ever gone to a conference and attended any pre-conference events, such as an open mic where you can read from a selection of your own work? The prospect is both exciting and terrifying. You don’t like to speak in public, but… you want to read something.

What do you do?

First of all, don’t panic. Here are some tips to help you successfully make it through an open mic reading.

  1. This isn’t a competition. An audience at an open mic is friendly and supportive. They want to hear what you have to read and they want you to do well.
  2. Don’t apologize.
    I don’t know when it became a trend to apologize for a work not being completely finished or for not being “as good as” someone else, but it is a trend that needs to stop. Don’t apologize for your work. Don’t apologize if you stumble over words because you’re nervous. Again, remember the people attending an open mic want you to do well. They will forgive you for things you think are unforgivable. There is no such thing as “unforgivable.”
  3. Have fun.
    The idea of open mics at pre-conference gatherings is to get to know your fellow conference-goers. No one expects a professional-level reading. You are there to network, learn, and have fun. This all starts at the open mic.

I can’t promise that these tips will completely get rid of your nervousness when you step up to the mic, but they will help. If you were to follow one tip at the exclusion of the others, that would be “have fun.” If you do that, the other two are pretty much moot.