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How to Choose Which IT Conference to Attend

written by: Matteo•edited by: Linda Richter•updated: 6/24/2011

With such a long list of options, how do you choose an IT conference to attend or send staff members to? How do you get the most out of attending an IT Conference? I'll try to answer that question here.

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    Dizzying Array of Conferences

    The only conference that is missing in the long list of IT Conferences might be the Conference summarizing all the other conferences. It seems like each year there are several new information technology conferences that you've never heard of before. You have probably wondered since that there are many choices out there for you to attend, or for companies to send employees, which ones will return the greatest value for you and/or your company?

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    Identify What You Want to Gain

    Primarily, you should have some expectation or goal in attending a conference. What is it that you want to gain from you or your employee attending an IT conference? Most IT conferences are attached to an IT system, like messaging or security, or a specific vendor, such as Microsoft or IBM. Some conferences offer hands on experience with products related to the conference through labs, physical or virtual. Some conferences have ‘Expos’ where vendors maintain booths peddling their services or applications to attendees. Many conferences balance the formalities with social events promoting networking. Presenters are often tied to the product or market segment they are speaking on. In many cases they can represent access to information about a product or service bypassing the sales people.

    Is the primary purpose of a conference for specific training in a focused setting? Is the training for a specific product or a specific application? Do you have a list of questions to ask certain presenters? Is it a networking opportunity for vendors, customers and potential partners? Is it to operate a booth in the conference market expo? Is it to work with new applications in a guided lab? Perhaps a conference is just to reward an employee with a change of scenery. You may also want to get information on the next generation of products that you currently use or are evaluating for you or your customers.

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    Ensure the Value is Realized

    Whatever the reason for attending a specific IT conference, the goals of attending should be outlined and documented prior to investing the thousands of dollars it costs to send employees. Those goals should be reviewed after the conference to check if those goals were met and if the value for attending, the ‘intellectual ROI’ if you will, was sufficient for the company.

    Some conferences enjoy a long rich history and have proven to be valuable over time. Granted, a long history in IT is only something like 10-20 years, but such stability suggests value in its offerings. Of course you choose conferences that are relevant to your business, whether by product or market segment. Some conferences are too general with content that may be available elsewhere, especially at a lower cost. Other conferences may provide more specialized sessions with more specific value to your enterprise.

    Conference choice and attendee preparation are keys to getting the most out of IT conferences.

Guide to Information Technology Conferences

There are plenty of IT conferences to choose from with more popping up each year. Here we explain how to choose the best conference to attend, a long list of conferences set for 2009-2010, and how to get the most from attending.
  1. How to Choose Which IT Conference to Attend
  2. 2010 IT Conferences For Microsoft, Linux, and Mac Applications and Technologies
  3. Getting the Most out of Attending a Conference