Awhile back, I wrote a post about the conferences that seem to flow in never-ending succession through my Twitter stream and why I can’t really rationalize going to them. Since doing that post, BlogWorld Expo 2010, along with many other great meetings and conferences, have come and gone. I have been sitting back watching some of the live streaming coverage, watching the excited people tweeting, watching the Retweets and then the retweets of the retweets. I’ve come to notice something else about these conferences.
I think they are a little unfair.
In my previously referenced post, I talked about the fact that as an agency woman, I am here to dedicate my time and expertise to our clients. My time is better used serving our clients here than going to a conference for 2-3 days out of every month. I still wouldn’t back away from that prioritization. I think a lot of people are with me in that boat. While we are all in the world of Social Media for various reasons, we are doing it in addition to our regular jobs. We are trying to carve our niches out between getting out of bed and going to work and then between coming home from work and going to bed. All of this is extra sauce or extra icing, depending on your preference.
Now, let’s look at what that means. That means that for a person like me, who does not work for a strictly Social Media company, it’s hard to go to your boss and say, “Oh, hi…I want to not only be out of the office for 3 days, but I’d also like you to cover my expenses.” It just won’t work, and I don’t think it’s just about company size. If you work for a candy bar manufacturer and you want to go to a peanut show, you could try to argue that it’s related and that it would hone your professional skills, but I think it would be an uphill battle. So then you look at the pricing structure of most conferences in this area of the industry. Without being too specific, I can tell you that in the case of most conferences, it would be a choice between my monthly expenses and attending the show.
So, fine, I can’t go to conferences. No big whoop, right?
Where People Become 3D
There’s one little problem that I’m noticing with the structure of this industry, however. If you can go to conferences and expos and events, you have a chance to meet really real people in person. You get to meet the leaders of the industry. You get to make connections. From those real-life connections, you have an opportunity to build your network and build your community in ways that are not accessible to folks like me. What it seems to boil down to is that these conferences are really targeting people who must be kind of doing okay already. They either work for a company that is in the meeting’s niche and that is big enough to cover expenses, or you are doing okay enough for yourself that you can afford to go out of your own pocketbook.
Is this a case of “the rich get richer?”
I’m not bopping conferences
Understand, I totally get the pricing structure of a lot of these conferences. I’m not saying that I expect huge conferences to be free (and in fact, with streaming video they really are in a lot of ways). I understand that expertise has a value that isn’t really appreciated enough in our industry.
But to make it fair, I’m wondering if maybe we could have events where there’s only 1 really major industry leader. Maybe the locale is not a place like Las Vegas or LA or Boston. I’m wondering if we could have shorter events where keynotes would happen at night so that people who have regular 8-5 jobs could still watch the streaming video, even if they still couldn’t attend.
I’m asking if there is a way these conferences and the opportunities they offer could be made accessible to folks like, well, me.
What do you think?