Choosing Your Conference Wisely

Many user groups hold their own conferences and educational events.  So how do you choose which event you should go to?  There are many factors to consider.  Let’s look at a few of them.  If there are others, let’s discuss them as we go along.

Cost – How much does attending the conference cost?  The cost has many components: registration fees, travel costs, food and entertainment costs, opportunity costs, etc…  One should take all of these into account when determining the cost of a conference.

Education – What are you learning?  Are your specific topic areas covered at the conference?  Are there better learning alternatives out there?  Your job is to do the best job that you can in matching up the conference with your requirements for education.

Networking and Community – How many opportunities do you have to network with your peers?  Do you have the opportunity to talk with the presenters and the industry’s recognized leaders?

Number of Available Presentations – Many conferences will tout the number of presentations that compose the conference.  This may certainly be an indication of the variety of topics that will be presented.  However, there are a finite number of hours that one person can attend an educational session at a conference.  How many hours can you attend at the conference of your choice?  If this is an acceptable number, fantastic!

Are there other factors out there that a potential conference attendee should consider?…  Please discuss…

If you have never attended the conference that you are evaluating, ask other peers in your network if they have attended, and what their evaluation of this conference was.  People who have attended conferences in the past will generally share their experiences with you if you ask.  Better yet, if your network of peers has attended multiple different conferences in the past, ask them to compare and contrast the options for you.  It is one more piece of information for you to use in your decision to attend a conference.

With today’s economic conditions, you need to make a wise decision on how you spend your training budget.  I urge you to look at all of these factors, and more, when making your decision.  Training dollars are more difficult to come by nowadays.  If you can afford to go to a conference this year, make sure you make the right choice.

Is there one specific conference that is ideal for every potential attendee?  I doubt it.  Everything up to this point in this post should be applicable when evaluating any conference that you are deciding on whether to attend or not.  As President of ODTUG, for the Oracle Development community, I hope you know which conference I believe really is that BEST value…

Feedback and Ideas, Please?

I’m happy to talk about many things, and I have gotten a couple of suggestions from my friends Dan Norris and David Peake.  However, I want to hear more from the readers of this blog.  What would you like to know more about?  Is there some technical topic you’d like to hear more about?  Would you like to learn more about one of the ODTUG Board Members?  Something about Kaleidoscope 2009 you want to discuss?  What about the ODTUG SIGs?  I really think that this blog will be more effective and enjoyable if you will send me questions and/or comments as we go along.

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