In this day of online training, it’s very easy to avoid going to live conferences and clinics. Online training is more convenient, more affordable, and can supply you with a great deal of information. But, the experience of attending a live event can give you something that online education can’t, the opportunity to have serendipitous meetings and discussions with peers, mentors, potential employers or employees.
I’m just returning from the National Strength and Conditioning Association’s national conference in Las Vegas. While I often present at conferences, this one was just for me, no other responsibilities. Besides the session content that will help me stay at the top of my game, I had some great interactions that made it worth leaving my work and my family, and traveling across the country for this conference.
Here are some of the benefits that I experienced from attending this live event.
I got to sit and chat with many friends that I have made through the years by going to conferences. While we stay in touch via social media and email, many times you won’t see them again until the conference the following year. Some of these friendships have lasted over 20 years (and may well last another 20). Through the years these conferences become like family gatherings.
I made some new friends. Some I just happened to sit next to in a session, while others were introduced to me by mutual friends. Always strike up conversations with those around you. Side discussions are a huge part of the experience of live events.
I was approached with offers of additional work opportunities. Obviously, this doesn’t happen until people get to know you, but, you never know where the next opportunity will come from.
I found chances to help others. As personal trainers, helping people is our passion. At conferences and clinics, we can help others by introducing them to other professionals (facilitating their networking), by being a sounding board for their ideas, by sharing your experiences in situations that they might be struggling with, and much more. Always look to pay it forward. I have been helped by many people in the past and I want to pass that on to others.
I have seen new opportunities to volunteer and help the hosting organization. By volunteering, you are not only helping the organization, but you can also learn new skills that can help you in the future.
I’m sure I’ve left out some, but hopefully you can see the additional benefits that attending live conferences and clinics can offer you. The successes that I’ve had in the industry, beyond my day-to-day training, are due in a large part to attending conferences and clinics and volunteering to help the hosting organization (for me, it has been predominately the NSCA). So, as you look to further your education, go ahead and utilize online content, but also look for the chance to attend live events and make the most of the interpersonal connections that are there for the making.