The Value of Professional Conferences

If you’ve been paying any attention to other personal finance blogs over the last week, you’ve heard a good bit about the financial blogger conference that took place in Chicago last weekend. While I don’t work full-time as a blogger, I do make money from blogging, which makes FINCON a professional conference for me.

For any professional, a conference can give you a lot of value. It doesn’t necessarily have to be value in the form of education or additional profit, either. For many, there are additional benefits to attending a professional conference.

Professional education.

Primarily, if your company is going to send you to a conference, they’ll be sending you because they believe you’ll get some educational value out of attending. The many breakout sessions are full of speeches and presentations that are designed to educate you on new and different ways to improve your business. Because of the focus of FINCON, for instance, the many speakers were mostly speaking about how we, as financial bloggers, can improve our writing and reach to provide the reader (that’s you!) with a better experience. J.D. Roth (Get Rich Slowly) gave a wonderful presentation about the power of the story. Cliff Ravenscraft (Podcast Answer Man) presented ways (and reasons) to use the power of the spoken word to reach our readers. Pat Flynn (Smart Passive Income) closed the conference with a rousing speech on being epic and providing the best content you can.

Networking.

The other, just as important, value you’ll get out of a conference is the benefit of networking with other professionals. Everyone of the attendees at one of these conferences is in the same industry as you are. They have experienced the same difficulties that you have. You can share your difficulties and accomplishments with them. Some will have overcome those same difficulties and will share how they accomplished it. Even better, through networking, you’ll make friends in the industry that you can contact after the conference is over and bounce ideas off of them. For many, the relationships created during these conferences will develop into strong professional partnerships. At FINCON, I was able to meet with many of the Yakezie. For most of us, it was the first time we were meeting in person after over a year of interaction on the Yakezie website, Twitter, Facebook, and e-mail.  We took advantage of the power of the network, and strengthened the relationship we already had.

Affirmation.

The final value that I’d like to mention is the value of the affirmation that a professional conference can provide.  If you’re in a professional position in an industry that you love, a professional conference can provide an affirmation of your chosen path.  For me, FINCON provided that.  The last thing that I wanted to do on the Monday after the conference was go back to my day job.  It’s not that I hate that job, but I love my job as a blogger. FINCON affirmed my decision to become a blogger.

Professional conferences can be exhausting.  They can even be a bit boring at times.  But, the value that they provide far exceeds the cost, both monetarily or physically.  I encourage you to find a conference in your field and attend it.  Especially so if you are a small business owner or a self-employed person.  It’s doubly important, then.  It doesn’t have to be half way around the world; for most industries, there are regional conferences all the time.  It’s worth it.  It pays off.

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