Why go to conferences? Plus: a guide

About a year ago, I offered a guide to conferences for recruitment marketing folks. Now I’m packing up to go to another conference, and it made me wonder: why go to conferences? Why not just stay home and keep working? (I may be thinking this because of the many times I’ve traipsed to Las Vegas, one of my least favorite cities in the world).

Well, in fact, there are some very good reasons to go to a conference – particularly if you’re purposeful about why you’re going, and which conference you’ve chosen. Here are my reasons:

  • They get you out of your rut: Yes, the simple act of leaving your daily routine behind (even though technology seems to drag it along with us these days) can be good for you – it can make you look at problems differently, and (sometimes) see new opportunities.
  • Reality replaces virtual: In other words, you actually see and talk to people, face to face. Particularly for those of us in smaller organizations, this can almost seem like a novelty. I’ve also found that even when you’re meeting people with whom you already have established relationships, a ‘real world’ encounter can provide the opportunity for a huge amount of data sharing – also known as ‘conversation’. Just chatting can often produce some great results!
  • Expand your mind: I value most those conferences that actually invest in good content, instead of simply relying on a bunch of breakout sessions. A good speaker covering a meaty topic can really get your mental juices flowing – and sometimes can result in the start of new products and services. And…if you’re in the market for software or affiliate services, you can sometimes find what you need.
  • See new places: Just kidding! If you’re going to a conference, you probably won’t see much of anything outside of the conference hall and/or hotel – unless it’s the bar or restaurant a sponsor rents for one of the ‘networking events’. (Although sometimes, if you’re lucky, you can sneak in a few good – and unusual – meals!).

So let’s say you’re in the recruitment marketing biz (probably because you’re reading this blog!). Which are some of the conferences you should consider? Here is a modified version of last year’s list:

  • ERE & SourceCon: ERE runs 2 conference series: the ERE conferences, with a focus on talent acquisition in general; and SourceCon, which focuses on sourcing. Why go to either one? It’s a chance to listen to what your prospects – professional recruiters and HR pros – are thinking. It may not be what you want to hear – but that’s ok, right?
  • TAtechTAtech is the for-profit association for, well, companies doing talent acquisition technology. They have greatly expanded their conference offerings in 2018 – I think they’re up to 5 – but the two big ones are in the spring and fall. Both have a big focus on networking. I’d pick one or the other and give them a shot. Try the smaller, single-topic confs if they appeal to you.
  • RecPlus: Put on by the AIM Group, which provides data on all aspects of the classifieds industry (including job boards), this European conference is knowledge-intensive and aimed at industry executives. A good one if you want to bone up on the latest industry developments.
  • SHRM Annual ConferenceEvery HR professional of any standing eventually finds his or her way to the SHRM conference. It is massive, it is overwhelming, and it is an extremely good way to learn more about the mind of the HR and recruitment professional. Most of the ‘big’ recruitment marketing companies – and many of the up and comers – will exhibit and/or speak on this conference.
  • Jobg8 Job Board SummitPut on by Jobg8, the U.K.-based job board network vendor, this conference happens twice a year (once in the U.S and once in the U.K.) It has a blend of networking like TAtech and content like RecPlus. Plus of course, lots of British accents! (Full disclosure: I have worked with Jobg8 over the past 2 years lining up speakers and agenda – so if you don’t like it, you know who to blame!).
  • HR Technology: The granddaddy of all HR technology conferences and expos, and the one conference that HR tech buyers always attend. There’s a reason that many successful recruiting sites have exhibited and/or attended over the years – this show has massive reach. It ain’t cheap – but it’s a great way to learn what’s happening in recruitment marketing and services. Worth a visit at least every 2-3 years for anyone in our industry.

OK, what did I miss (because I know I missed some)? Let me know. And put on your travelling shoes for 2018!

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