In 'Never Eat Alone', Keith Ferrazzi encourages people to be 'Conference Commandos'.
Conferences are good for mainly one thing. No, it's not the coffee and cookies at breaks. It's not even pricey business enlightenment. They provide a forum to meet the kind of like-minded people who can help you fulfill your mission and goals.
Emphasis: Use conferences to network. Knowledge and business insight are in short supply.
[There's a] misperception that conferences are places to find insight. Wrong. Real, actionable insight mostly comes from experience, books, and other people. Roundtable discussions and keynote speeches can be fun, even inspirational, but rarely is there the time to impart true knowledge.
Those who use conferences properly have a huge leg up at your average industry gathering. While others quietly sit taking notes, content to sip their free bottled water, these men and women are setting up one-on-one meetings, organizing dinners, and, in general, making each conference an opportunity to meet people who could change their lives...
...Yes, there's a guide to getting the most out of a conference. My friend Paul Reddy, a software executive, claims people are either bowling balls or pins at a conference. If you're the ball, you walk (or roll) into a conference, event, or an organization, and you blow it apart. With a dash of bravado and ingenuity, you leave a positive impression in your wake, create friendships, and achieve the goals on your agenda. The pins sit placidly by, waiting for something, anything, to happen to them.