While we interact a lot with each other in your development community via forum, social media and tons of emails, we should not forget the importance of being in a live face-to-face setting with others. Being active in the developer community can bring many benefits. There is power in being connected to other developers who are active in the same area. It can be easy to skip meetings and not come to the annual conferences, but soon you may have skipped them for several years. Joining the forums is not enough, you need to be active and post regularly. But to build personal connections, you need to join the conferences and meet the persons behind the forum avatar.
Everyone is busy at their work, especially small business owners, who tend to work even on weekends. Leaving the office a few days to participate in a conference, trade show, convention or seminar can seem like a waste of time. However, these live meetings might be just what you need to uncover new ways to growing your business.
While you may meet competitors at the conference, don't hide from them or fear meeting them. They may not steal your business, but could be a great help in projects. Most other developers don't really compete with your and may even help with referrals. Some may become friends and allies over time and may refer to you for joined projects.
Here are five reasons to attend your next developer conference:
Learn something new
No matter how experienced you are at your business, everyone can learn something new. Working alone in your office can often be isolating. You keep your daily routine and miss different points of view, new ideas and embracing industry trends. Missing a new trend may impact your future business results. The educational aspect of a conference can expose you to new development techniques, new frameworks and libraries to use and discover how to be more productive.
Networking with peers
Conferences provide a great opportunity to network. Often competitors from other regions of the world can become valuable resources for referrals and best-practices. Avoiding peers for fear of others discovering your competitive advantage can actually limit your own success. Collaboration is the way to approach networking. While there are those whose intentions can be suspect, most people can help each other uncover ideas and spark inspiration when they get to know each other on a personal level.
At the conference you may find your next client, your next employer or if you look yourself to get hired, you may find companies looking for developers and get a job. At several past conferences we hosted, we explicitly invited unemployed developers (with free tickets) and encouraged them to talk to companies. We know that some developers found a new job and met their future employer at our conference.
Encounter new vendors and suppliers
Too often people shy away from the booths in the exhibit area at conferences. They fear that they will have to talk to salespeople, but these suppliers are some of the best people for you to get to know. They may offer tools and libraries to get your work done quicker, easier and without getting in all the technical details. Discovering innovative products and services for your business is necessary to stay competitive in today’s fast-paced world. Plus, these vendors may offer you the same tools that your competitors use. Invest time with the sponsors at the event and turn them into your friends and allies.
Position yourself as an expert
When you are active in the community, you can develop a reputation as an expert to your peers and your clients. Those who are engaged over the long term are often asked to speak at the events and to write articles for publications. Like it or not, others like to associate with the experts in any industry. Clients feel good about doing business with those that are celebrated by their peers. If your strategy is to be the best-kept secret in the community, you will be missing a valuable opportunity.
Being in business should be rewarding and fun. All the work and no time to play can get old fast. Conferences can add a layer of enjoyment to managing your career growth by mixing a social aspect into your learning and industry branding efforts. Many events have fun activities such as parties, sport activities, and tours of the local area where the event is hosted. Taking an extra day at the beginning or end of the trip to explore or visit friends in the region is also a great way to maximize the investment in travel. After climbing a mountain, the get-together in a local beer garden, may get your into talks revealing valuable information about your peers. Some stories about interesting challenges in the past, new opportunities coming and current trends may not show up at the actual conference. Never underestimate the power of a little fun mixed with some interesting people!
Don't believe that accessing information via the Internet makes live meeting obsolete. The truth is, meetings are more important than ever. You won't spend a day at home to learn new techniques on your own. But being at the conference you paid to be there, so you want to learn as much as possible, takes notes and later check again the interesting things at home. The value in meetings comes from the human-to-human connections that occur. Often people cite the serendipitous “hallway conversations” that they have with other attendees as the most valuable parts of attending an event. While these are not on the agenda, or mentioned in the breakout sessions learning objectives, when two or more people begin to discuss topics on a deeper and personal level, the success of the event to those involved becomes irreplaceable. It is the people that bring the value to your time at a conference.
Please join the next conferences:
Xojo Developer Conference in Miami, European Xojo Conference in Cologne
FileMaker DevCon in Orlando, FileMaker Conferences in Europe: Hamburg (German), Madrid (Spain), Den Bosch (Dutch), Bologna (Italian) and others.