- a formal meeting for discussion.
Conferences used to be viewed and deemed as these industry-leading events for top professionals. Think buttoned up, pressed blazers, a clean, polished look, uniform almost if you would. New emerging discoveries, keynotes by industry experts, qualified attendees leaving with knowledge on a specific topic or industry to use to advance better themselves and the companies they represent.
Now, these type of conferences still exists think of industries such as Medicine, Science, etc. However, this is no longer the only concept you think of when it comes to conferences these days. I promise you, if you are looking for a specific niche, interest, demographic there is a conference for it/them/you these days, and you should attend!
I studied fashion in college and work in event industry while working in tech for my 9-5. The array of different conferences I have attended vary from tech events like Afrotech to women empowerment such as Brown Girls Love, Hustle Her Way Summit and Create & Cultivate, to industry-specific such as TechsyTalk, and ILEA, and influencer events like Daze Summit and Brooklyn Marketing Week. All very different but all serving a similar experience. If you see a conference that seems appealing, has a speaker you admire or would like to hear from an interesting brand activation/sponsor I encourage doing some research and planning and #JustDoIt (Nike does not pay me).
Here are five main reasons why a millennial should attend a conference:
We are an experience-based generation and this is… well an experience
If they are curated and executed with an actual thought about how the attendee could benefit, it truly is a day or weekend (depending on the length) experience. Some great conferences that I have attended partner with amazing sponsors and designers to provide great content and worthy memories as well as activities. Anywhere from makeup stations, hair stations, 360 photo booths, sponsored alcoholic beverages and catered lunches. Most will even have vendors and each vendor will develop their station to represent and speak. They are very excited to connect with attendees as yourself. This is your chance to connect, inquire, engage, stack up on giveaways or even make some purchases and get familiar with a brand that you may not have even known of or saw in that light.
Sitting in a room with those that share a similar interest, passion or journey
The reason why I say do your research is that you do not want to attend an event without seeing who their target market is and who they are targeting. The last thing you want to do is decide to go to a conference without learning what the brand represents, and there is no one there you can relate to or connect with. A majority of what makes these conferences memorable and valuable is the people sitting to your left and your right. Nothing feels more rewarding than being in a room with those that share the same interest as you come to the event with the same goal in mind.
Expanding your network
This ties in with number two. When you are surrounded by those that have a commonality with yourself, it makes it so much easier and comfortable for you to connect. Now I am a person who suffers from anxiety, and the idea of approaching someone without having alcohol in my system has me fumbling over a simple introduction. Now try to combine that with people that I feel are unrelatable! That’s the beauty of these specific conferences; everyone is so eager to learn from another and meet a new like-minded individual. The pressure is off and the genuine curiosity for connection is evident.
Opportunity to leave an impression on industry leaders
Besides sitting next to other attendees similar to yourself, you get to sit in proximity to influencers, tastemakers, movers, shakers, entrepreneurs, industry leaders, etc. They are there to provide knowledge, insight and share their stories. This is your opportunity to get creative with your approach to introduce yourself or your brand (ditch the business cards and give them some swag!). You can even ask thought-provoking questions that could help you personally as well as others in the room. This is your lifeline to their brain and space.
Exercise your mind
What I love the most about attending conferences is the way it sparks my brain to develop new ideas, re-evaluate old ones and force conversations that I would either normally shy away from or not actively pursue. This interaction is fulfilling! Who wants to pay money to attend an event and feel like they walked away with absolutely nothing ( minus the awesome swag bag)? They are meant to teach, inspire and re-energize.
Sometimes some conferences are in different states or cities that may be on your bucket list or may not have even been a location you would have thought to travel to. Who doesn’t want an excuse to travel? If you are a millennial looking to advance your skill set or jump start your project, conferences are a great location to begin that journey or add another element to continue the one you may have already started.
Have a Question? Let’s Connect!