The Real Reason To Attend A Conference

August 27, 2012 — 42 Comments

In today’s world there’s an endless choice of conferences to attend. There’s at least one for anything that you can imagine.

Leadership training, WordPress workshops, Macrame crafting meetups.

Rich Avery, Kimanzi Constable, Alana Mokma, and I at San Chez during WordCamp Grand Rapids

From left to right: Alana Mokma, Kimanzi Constable, Joseph Lalonde, and Rich Avery

We’re bombarded with reasons why we should go to the Catalyst Conference or the Global Leadership Summit. Or any other conference that you should attend.

You create a list and figure out the pros and cons for each. Trying to figure out which one will benefit you the most.

  • Jim Collins will be there
  • They break world records
  • It’s nearby
  • The date doesn’t work out
  • Flights are too expensive

All are valid reasons to attend or not to attend. Regardless of which conferences you attend, you’ll get something out of it.

But that’s not the real reason you should attend a conference.

There’s a much better reason to go. The people you will meet and the connections you will make.

I recently attend WordCamp Grand Rapids. It was a blast.

The speakers were great.They were all knowledgeable and spoke well.

I learned a lot.

  • How to build a better community (Not that I need to build a better community. You guys rock.)
  • How to video blog
  • New ways to use social media

That was great. It really was. But that was not the best part of the event.

It was physically meeting those that I’ve connected with online and meeting new people.

Meeting guys and gals like Kimanzi Constable from Tales of Work. Rich Avery from Life Compass. Dan Hefferan. Alana Mokma of Musings of a Shiny Penny. Tharon Rodriguez.

It created a new bond that you can’t form just from online conversations. You’ve now met them. You’ve broken bread with them. You’ve spent actual time with them.

The next conference you go to, don’t go just to gain new information. That’s easy to come by.

Go looking to form new relationships.

When you do, you’ll find it to be your best experience of the conference.

Question: What’s your favorite part of attending a conference? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.


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  • Alana Mokma

    JOE!!! YES! I agree! The best part for me in attending conferences is definitely the people I get to meet. I love taking the relationship/friendship to a deeper level than just exchanging tweets online. I DID learn some great things at WordCamp, but I found myself talking more about the people I met at the Stories I heard. 

    • Joe Lalonde

      Glad you’re finding the same things to be true, Alana. 

  • Charlie Lyons

    Here here, Joe! I absolutely agree. I’ve been to a couple conferences/seminars lately that have expanded my reach both personally and professionally. I apprecitate this timely message. Thank you!

    • Joe Lalonde

      You’re welcome Charlie. What steps do you take to meet new people at conferences?

      • Charlie Lyons

         Well, Joe, are “steps” really involved? I usually just walk up and start chatting. :-)

        • Joe Lalonde

           I think it was a little early or late when I wrote that comment. What I meant was: Did you plan to meet up with anyone you knew or did you find people to approach and approached them?

          • Charlie Lyons

            The last one I was at I specifically went not knowing anyone. There I gained several new professional contacts.

  • Larry Carter

    I really haven’t attended one yet. I want to go to the Quitter conference next winter.

    • Dan Black

       You should definitely go Larry. 

    • Joe Lalonde

       I’ve heard amazing stories come from the Quitter conference. A great guy and fellow blogger, Jim Woods, will be speaking this year. If you get a chance, go!

  • Tyler Hess

    I never even hear about conferences out here, I feel like everything is in Atlanta or Nashville, so I stick to webinars! I guess I have to save the photo opps for me and my baby

    • Joe Lalonde

      It can be tough discovering what’s going on. To be honest, I wouldn’t have known about this conference if it weren’t for Kimanzi.

      Keep your ears open and you should be able to find a local conference eventually.

  • Dan Black

    I have been to several conferences and really have enjoyed the networking opportunity’s. It’s a great way to meet and connect with others.

    In Oct. I’m attending a conference were Dave Ramsey will be speaking live. In fact my brother and myself are taking a luxury bus from San Diego to Newport beach(about 11/2 hours away) with a group of people. I’m looking froward to connecting and networking with the group.

    Great post!

    • Joe Lalonde

       Nice Dan. Dave Ramsey is an amazing live speaker. Will his talk be on finances or leadership? Either way you won’t be disappointed.

      • Dan Black

         It’s on finances. I’m looking forward to it.

        • Joe Lalonde

           You’ll enjoy it. His energy and passion shine through with his talks on finances.

  • TCAvey

    That sounds great.
    I haven’t been to many conferences but hope the doors will open for me to attend some in the future.

    • Joe Lalonde

      It was TC. There’s power in meeting and connecting with others. I’ll be praying that the doors open and you have the opportunity to attend more conferences.

      • TCAvey

        Thank you. That would be great! All in God’s timing and hands.

  • kimanzi constable

    It was great meeting you guys, it made the conference really special for me :)

    I love to network when I go to conferences, you meet clients, partners, friends, great connections.

    • Joe Lalonde

       Glad we were able to make it a special experience for you!

  • Ngina Otiende

    I have not attended conferences here in the US before but i plan to start soon. I agree with you, it’s about the relationships.

    • Joe Lalonde

      I hope you have the chance to do it soon. You can’t be the experience.

      Did you have the chance to attend conferences when you weren’t in the US? What were they like?

      • Ngina Otiende

        I was part of a team that organized workshops and retreats mostly though i did manage to attend some seminars on the side. It’s a different feel when you are an organizer :) but the bottom line is the same. People enjoy the interaction and downtime (where they get to do their ‘own thing’ more) more than information, teachings or ‘organized’ set-up.

        • Joe Lalonde

           That sounds like quite a bit of work. Bet it was rewarding in the end, knowing you helped others improve their lives. I hope you’re able to get out and experience a couple of conferences this year. You’ll grow so much from the experience!

  • Mike Holmes

    I really do need to attend more conferences. Blogging and networking online are cool but nothing beats that face to face

    • Joe Lalonde

       Very true Mike. There’s nothing like that personal connection.

      I’m not sure where you live, but if you’re anywhere close to Atlanta, you should check out the Catalyst conference in October. Great chance to network and meet other great leaders.

    • Dan Black

       You should make it a point to attend a conference soon.

  • Michael Nichols

    Great thoughts Joe. Glad you enjoyed the conference on the relationships!

    • Joe Lalonde

       Thanks Michael. It was a great time. Do you have any must attend conferences?

      • Michael Nichols

        For leaders I recommend Orange, the Building Champions Experience, Leadercast, and the Global Leadership Summit.

  • Dustin W. Stout

    Hah! It’s funny that we both wrote about conferences on the same day. Mine was to inform about a conference– yours was better. Lol! 

    Great thoughts Joe! You can bet I’ll remember this in Oct. when I head to R12! 

    • Dan Black


      Your post was good. If anyone else want to read it you can find it here, If your in the Irvine CA area you should attend the conference Dustin mentioned.

    • Joe Lalonde

       Guess great minds think alike Dustin. The R12 conference sounds stellar and I’m sure you’ll benefit from attending.

  • Carol Peterson

    Great thoughts, Joe. You have to give me a swift kick to attend conferences. But when I go I’ve got so much encouragement, inspiration, knowledge, new friends, opportunities that I’m ready to go again. I need to figure out how to give myself that kick…

    • Joe Lalonde

       Well Carol, get out there and go attend a conference! Come on… Go sign up and go! (-; What conferences have you found to be best for networking?

  • Jon Stolpe

    I love networking with other people at conferences.  I also love the inspiration that comes through the speakers and resources that come with a good conference.  One of my favorite conferences was the Willow Creek Group Life Conference.  I don’t think they’re doing it anymore, but I always came back charged up from the experience.

    • Joe Lalonde

      True Jon. We don’t have to make it an either/or situation but it’s a both/and situation. 

      What was your best experience with the Willow Creek Group Life Conference? I’ve never heard of it. 

      • Jon Stolpe

        Honestly, the best experience was hanging out with the group of small group coaches and leaders who attended from our church.  There’s something about hanging out together for 3 days that draws you closer to each other.

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