Why Everyone Should Attend a Conference

This has been a week of conference bliss for me. I attended Puppet Camp Chicago earlier in the week and spent the rest of the week I’ll at Linux Con. I’ve never been a big conference attendee in the profesisonal aspect of my life, so it was a bit of a first. I have to tell you it’s an awesome experience.

My experience has left me with a single question; Why are managers not pushing harder for employees to attend conferences? I’m paying for Linux Con out of my own pocket, but conference attendance is something bosses should embrace. It may seem like a scheme for employees to get a week off with paid expenses, but I assure you, it’s more than that.

The energy at a convention is like nothing you’ve experienced before. The space is filled with upbeat professionals that are tackling problems both incredibly similar and radically different than your own. The conference talks usually run the gamut in terms of experience levels. As an attendee you’d be hardpressed to not find something you’re interested in. Here’s my line up for Day 1 of the conference. This doesn’t include all of the talks I had to skip because of timing conflicts.

All of these talks are items that can help my career and my employer today. It has givien me a level of enthusiasm that I haven’t had in quite some time. Now imagine if you could give that level of education, motivation and enthusiasm to every member of your team.

My conference buddy and I have already identified several technologies we want to look at implementing, as well as developed contacts with people who are already using them. We’ve met with some great people at Puppet Labs, like Lindsey Smith, the Puppet Enterprise product owner, who listened to our real world problems and pain points. He also got us setup with the Puppet Labs Test Pilot Program so that we can be involved in the direction of Puppet Enterprise.

We grabbed a few beers with Morgan Tocker the MySQL Community manager at Oracle. We shared stories, talked about some of our struggles with MySQL and just generally had a good time and got a ton of insight into potential pain points in the future as well as features to leverage in upcoming releases.

When we get back to the office on Monday, we’ve got a ton of things to discuss, evaluate, re-evaluate and expand upon. That’s the power of conferences, and if you’re a manager, it’s why you should consider the next request for conference funds a little more carefully.

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