I noticed at Press Publish Portland that we had a real mix of conference experience amongst our attendees. Some attendees had been to many different kinds of conferences, some were experienced conference organizers, and some were attending a conference for the first time.
I remember attending my first conference and feeling really overwhelmed. I didn’t know anyone, and I wasn’t sure I belonged there. At first, I wandered around by myself, avoiding eye contact and feeling like an imposter. About halfway through the morning, I attended a talk that really connected with me and saw other people nodding and laughing at the same things I was nodding and laughing about. It finally occurred to me, “Oh! Some of these people are just like me!” And then I was able to strike up a conversation with someone at lunch, chatted with some one or two other people before/after sessions in the afternoon, and left the event with some great new ideas and feeling pretty pleased with myself.
If you’ve attended a conference in the past, what’s the best experience you had — did a presentation inspire you? Did you make a new friend, learn a skill, or have a great conversation? If you have a conference coming up (Press Publish Phoenix is on April 18, to take an example completely at random), what do you hope to get out of it?