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Technology has made it easier than ever for us to connect and collaborate with colleagues from just about anywhere in the world. With access to products and services at our fingertips, it begs asking the question, is it worth it to spend your dollars and time attending an actual conference anymore? With an abundance of blogs, podcasts, YouTube videos and webinars at our fingertips, why spend precious time and money on going to conferences?

Even in 2018, physically going to conferences is more relevant than ever, and this blogpost is here to tell you, in the form of a short but sweet list, why you too should book those tickets.

The foremost benefit of attending a conference is networking. There is no direct message, Skype, email or tweet that can rival a face to face meet up. Social media makes it easy for us to stay connected to our current network but it also hinders branching out and expanding our networks. Some of the best advice I ever received was that a seasoned professional knows “the gold is in the hallways,” and the most important conversations happen there.

Here are 6 reasons to validate investing in that ticket in 2018:

1. Change of Scenery
Being stuck in the same environment with the same desk, routine and people can have a detrimental effect on your productivity and creativity, and leave you stuck in a rut. Nothing breathes new life into your career like traveling to a new place to experience new surroundings, cultures and inspiring people. Cure your wanderlust and get those creative juices flowing again!

2. Sharpen the Saw
While the “sharpen the saw” idea certainly pre-dates Stephen Covey, he lists it as his seventh habit of highly effective people. The idea is that sometimes you have to take a break from the “work” of your work to sharpen your skills. A dull axe won’t cut a tree nearly as effectively as a sharp one.

3. Networking
While it’s true that technology can bring people from other ends of the globe closer together (email, Skype, Facetime, Slack), nothing beats a real life, face-to face meet up; an email is fine, a phone call is better, a handshake is ideal. Meet new and old friends, catch up with old acquaintances, seal the deal that was too important for a mere email. Show engagement by being present – you’re representing yourself and your company, so make invaluable connections and leave a lasting impression. Additionally, it’s not just about you meeting the right people – it’s also about the right people meeting you.
Good conferences have opportunities for attendees to mix and mingle, form new relationships, and strengthen existing ones. Over coffee, lunch, or cocktails, you may make a connection with the perfect provider or prospect. At a breakout session, you may find yourself sitting next to your next customer or mentor. Perhaps the next partnership is one that you hadn’t even considered, and being approached by the right people could be the best thing you never expected. These things do happen, but not if you’re not out there mingling. If you don’t go, maybe your toughest competitor will be sitting in your seat…

4. Content / Takeaways
Conferences can be expensive. From the conference ticket to the plane ticket, from the meals to the bar tab. And that doesn’t even include the time away from the office where you could be doing “work.” However, conference provide a unique convergence of networking, learning, and fun into a single package. A good conference forces you to grow and challenge yourself.
And if you’re the boss, allowing your employees to get out of the office, gain confidence in their ability, and bring fresh ideas back to the business is just an investment in your own company. If you or your company like to keep a readership up-to-date by covering developments or providing useful info about your field (by maintaining a social media presence, for example), a conference can be a content goldmine. Liveblog about a speaker’s talk, tweet about the trends you’re noticing, snapchat yourself with your idol – benefit from the conference buzz and join the conversation. If there is something specific that you want to know, there are many opportunities for you to get the answers you seek, whether it’s during a Q&A with a speaker or you stumble across someone useful on the conference ground.

4. Learn Something new Outside your Field
Besides gaining knowledge about the latest developments within your own field, exploring uncharted territory may also prove extremely rewarding. Broaden your horizons and gain an eclectic overview of what’s shaping our future. Who knows – you might find the solution to a problem or the inspiration for your next big venture in an area you least expect it.

5. Have Fun!
You will mainly be going to a conference to gain knowledge and network, but who said an event can’t be informative and enjoyable? Apart from captivating, forward thinking and often humorous/controversial talks, many conferences offer fun receptions and meet-ups, side events, things to try out and other tomfoolery. Traveling to a beautiful city, meeting inspiring people, boosting your career and having a laugh along the way doesn’t sound like the worst thing in the world now, does it?

6. Exposure to the Energy of Like-Minded Individuals
There’s nothing like being in a room of like-minded people. Other people who are willing to take time away from the office to learn something new. Other people who want to “better” themselves. When you sit in a classroom or auditorium, you discover that you’re not alone in wanting to improve your skills and bring something back to your office or organization. That energy is lacking in all online learning channels, regardless of how much chatter there may be around a hashtag.

7. Break out of your Comfort Zone
Live events force you to break out of your comfort zone. It’s easy to read a blog post from the privacy of your own office. You won’t break a sweat listening to a podcast (unless you’re on the treadmill.) You don’t have to make small talk while your YouTube video loads up. While there are those among us who are born networkers, for many of us live events, and other people can be a challenge. But breaking out of our comfort zones is just the type of action we need to take to break out of old ways of thinking that have got us in a rut in our businesses. If you’re absolutely terrified of the idea of going to a conference, bring a wingman (or wingwoman) so you won’t feel completely on your own.

So why attend conferences? We each have our own reasons for attending but my personal opinion is that conference attendance dramatically enhances both your professional and personal development, as well as providing you with tools and skills which you cannot be taught in-house or online. The focused nature of learning at a conference allows you to dig deeper with the understanding of your topic of interest.

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If you are a medical device marketing professional interested in learning from the movers and shakers in healthcare, consider joining us next month at the 3rd Annual MedDev eMarketing Summit West 15-16 May, 2018 – Rancho Bernadino Inn, San Diego, CA). This unique event provides a platform for medical device industry marketing, product management, sales, digital and brand management executives to learn from case studies, benchmark against shared best practices and understand key criteria needed in order to effectively initiate and leverage a digital marketing campaign for product and brand success. November’s event includes an interactive and dialogue-driven environment filled with panel discussions, engaging case-studies, roundtables, “TED-style” talks, keynotes, hands-on sessions and more providing unbridled access to best practices, valuable insights, tools and techniques for making the most of your marketing and sales campaigns. If you are interested in viewing the full program, please download our brochure here.

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